Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

Full text of "Irish pioneers in Kentucky : a series of articles published in the Gaelic American"

See other formats


a 13 




Cornell University 

The original of tiiis book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

Irish Pioneers in Kentucky 

A series of articles published in 

The Gaelic American 

New York 



The True Discoverer of Kentucky. 

Not Daniel Boone, as is Generally Supposed, but an Irish 

Pioneer named James McBride. Testimony 

of Impartial Historians. 

Our Irish-American literary and historical associations could do no 
better work than turn the searchlight on the early records of Kentucky. 
Of all the original Thirteen Colonies, none present? a wider, more prolific 
or more interesting field for historical research than that portion of the 
Colony of Virginia, originally called Fincastle County, and which, in 1779, 
was formed into the State of Kentucky. 

It may be said that the early history of Kentucky is contemporary 
with that of Virginia and the Carolinas. It was from those Colonies that 
the pioneers of the "Blue Grass State" set out in search of adventure and 
fortune in the unknown land beyond the great ranges of the Appalachians, 
and although historians invariably give the credit to the renowned hunter, 
Daniel Boone, as having been "the discoverer of Kentucky," we shall quote 
authorities to show that long before the valiant Boone ever saw the sky 
over fair Kentucky, another daring hunter from Virginia had blazed a path 
through that region and paved the way for the more famous explorers that 
succeeded him. And it is not the least bit remarkable to find that the first 
white man who traversed that region and made known its possibilities to a 
waiting world, bore an Irish name, James McBride. In all likelihood he 
V'as a native of Ireland. 

Our authorities for this statement are no less than the eminent his- 
torians of Kentucky, Judge Lewis Collins and John Filson. 

Collins is the leading authority on early Kentucky history. He was 
the author of "Kentucky, Its History, Antiquities and Biography." It is a 
graphic story of the early settlement of the West, vivid, enthusiastic and 
minute; compiled with a loving and reverent industry from original rec- 
ords, and from the letters and papers of the pioneers themselves. These he 
sought out and rescued "from moths and mice in the lumber rooms of 
original log houses of tlie backwoods, or taken from the aged lips of some 
surviving relics of the olden time." The details are interesting, not only 
to every Kentuekian for the sake of the abundant family history, but to 
every student of the part played by Irish immigrants in the early days of 
the great Southwest. 

A- Fbench Tbaveleb and Histobian. 

Filson's "Histoire de Kentueke, Nouvelle Colonie ^ I'ouest de la Var- 
gjnie," preceded that of Judge Collins, and has served as a basis for a 
true accounts of that region that have since appeared. The author was 
a French traveler and hunter, who first passed through what is now called 
Kentucky in the year 1784. His history was published in Paris in 1,785, 
and we have been fortunate in coming across a copy of this rare work, from 
which we quote. 

Under the chapter entitled, "Decouverte et achat du territoire," Filson 

"On croit que Jl. James McBride est le premier homme blane qui ait 
eu connoissanee de Kentueke. En 1754, accompagne de quelques amis, il 
deseendit I'Ohio dans des canots, aborda I'embouehure de la riviere Ken- 
tueke, et y marqua trois arbres, avec les premieres lettres de son nom, et 
la date du jour et de I'annee; ces inscriptions subsistent encore. Nos 
voyageurs reeonnurent le pays, et retournerent dans leurs habitations avec 
I'agreable nouvelle de la decouverte d'une des plus belles contrees de I'Amer- 
ique septentrionale, et peutetre du monde entier. Depuis cette epoque ce 
pays fut neglige, jusque vers I'annee 1707, que JI. John Finley et quelques 
autres personnes, commercant avec les Naturels, penetrerent heureusement 
dans cette fertile region, maintenant appellee Kentueke, et connue alors 
des Xaturels sous les noms de Tei're d'Obscurite, Terre de Sang, et Terre 
Moycnnc. Ce pays frappa beaucoup M. Finley; mais il fut bientot oblige 
d'en sortir, par les suites d'une querelle qui s'eleva entre les commercants 
et les Naturels; et il retourna chez lui dans la Carolina septentrionale ou 
il communiqua sa decouverte au Colonel Daniel Boone et a quelques per- 
sonnes, qui, la regardant comme un objet tres important, resolurent en 
1769 d'entreprendre un voyage, dans le dessein d'examiner ce pays. Apres 
une longue et fatiguante marche, a I'ouest, dans des lieux sauvages et 
montueux, ils arriverent enfin sur les frontieres de Kentueke; et du sommet 
d'une eminence, ils, decouvrirent, avec une surprise melee de joie, son 
superbe paysage. lis y etablirent un logement, et tandis que quelques uns 
de la troupe allerent ehercher des provisions, quils se procurerent facile- 
ment, vu J'abondance du gibier, le Colonel Boone et John Finley courufent 
le pays, quils trouverent fort superieur a leurs esperances, et ayant rejoint ■ 
leurs compagnons, il les informerent de leurs decouvertes." 
Translating this, it says: 

Translation of the Fokeqoinq. 

"It is believed that Monsieur James McBride is the first white man 
who had any knowledge of Kentucky. In 1754, accompanied by some 
friends, he descended the Ohio in canoes, landed at the mouth of the Ken- 
tucky River, and there marked on three trees, the first letters of his name, 
with the date and the year, these inscriptions being still visible Our 
travelers explored the country 4nd returned to their homes with the agree- 
able news of the discovery of one of the most beautiful countries of North 
America, and perhaps of the entire world. Since that period, this country 
was neglected, until about the year 1767, when Monsieur John Finley and 

several other persons, trading with the natives, fortunately passed through 
that fertile region, now called Kentucky, and at that time known to the 
natives under the names of Land of Ohsourity, the Bloody Country and the 
Middle Country. The country much impressed Monsieur Finley, but he was 
soon obliged to quit it in consequence of a quarrel having arisen between the 
traders and the natives; and he returned home to North Carolina, where 
he communicated his discovery to Col. Daniel Boone and others, who regard- 
ing it a matter of great importance, resolved in 1769 to undertake a jour- 
ney for the purpose of exploring the country. After a long and fatiguing 
march to the West, through wild and mountainous territories, they even- 
tually arrived on the frontiers of Kentucky, and from the summit of a hill, 
they discovered with mingled Joy and surprise, a superb landscape. There 
they erected a cabin, and while several members of the party went in search 
of provisions, which were readily procurable, there being an abundance of 
game, Colonel Boone and John Finley scoured the country, which they found 
to exceed all their hopes, and having rejoined their companions, they in- 
formed them of their discoveries." 

Probably an Irishman. 

It is seen from this that Kentucky was first explored in the middle of 
the eighteenth century and by one who, in all probability, was an Irishman. 
Of the incidents of his long journey there appears to be no record. We are 
only told that he had the hardihood to undertake a task from which all 
but the bravest shrunk, that he went far away into a wilderness hitherto 
untrodden by a white man, and that he set an example for the others who 
followed the same route several years after. The journey must have occu- 
pied many weeks, but no details seem to be obtainable from any of the his- 
torical works that we have examined, of the arrival of the pioneer and his 
companions at the Kentucky River or of their return to Virginia. We 
simply know that they were the first white men to penetrate a hitherto 
unknown countrj' beyond the remotest frontiers of American civilization. 
Bands of Indians must have hovered round them and beset their every path, 
for the country was in sole possession of the red men, who resented the 
intrusion of the strangers. 

At that time, and for several succeeding years, Kentucky was nothing 
more than a vast wilderness, where the savage Indian tribes roamed at 
will. From the very beginning they were hostile to the whites. The ex- 
ploration and settlement of the territory was fiercely disputed, and many 
are the stories of daring and adventure that are told of the hardy pioneers 
from beyond the mountains who encountered the redmen in numerous 
bloody conflicts. 

Route the Exploeeb Followed. 

The only known route from the South and East by which this remote 
territory could be penetrated at that time was by means of, boats on the 
Ohio River or its tributaries. McBride is said to have come down the Ohio 
to its confluence with the Kentucky and stopped where the town of Car- 
ToUton in Carroll County now stands. It was here that he cut his initials 

on the trees, which Filson was able to read 30 years after. It is to be re- 
gretted that no more elaborate account of the romantic, and probably thrill- 
ing, adventures of this hardy pioneer of the West has been handed down 
to us by historical writers. But enough has been written by the premier 
historian of Kentucky, who himself traveled through the country in its 
primeval state, to warrant us in saying that the name and fame of this 
pioneer Irish-American should be better known to readers of American his- 
tory. It is, perhaps, no misrepresentation of strict truth to say that it was 
unfortunate for his fame that he bore such a very Irish name. 

Kentucky's Debt to M'Bkide. 

Some may be disposed to doubt the accuracy of this conclusion, or to 
think it overdrawn. But, if so, we should ask, how it is that the name 
of the first white man known to have come down the Ohio and Kentucky 
Rivers is not perpetuated in history? "The first known white man to ex- 
plore these regions," as Collins describes him, is unhonored by the State 
of Kentucky, whose great possibilities he first made known to the world. 
Not a, village, town, city or county in Kentucky; not a creek, river or 
mountain is named after this notable pioneer, the true "discoverer of Ken- 
tucky." The name of De Soto, the discoverer of the Mississippi; of Mar- 
quette, the pioneer of the great Northwest; of Boone, one of the pioneers 
of Kentucky, are deservedly inscribed on "imperishable marble," while he 
who may be said to have been the first to plant the seed grains from 
which the great State of Kentucky has sprung, is unknown to thousands of 
Americans. Who can measure the debt that Kentucky owes to the memory 
of this Irish- American pioneer; why has he not been allotted a place in the 
early history of our country? 

The True Discoverer of Kentucky. 

The Memory of James McBride is Unhonored by the Blue 
Grass State. The Irish Traders. 

Readers may picture to themselves what this bold adventurer may have 
looked Hke. A forceful and pushing character, and no doubt in the prime 
of manhood; a robust, muscular frontiersman, accustomed to the woods and 
finding happiness in the excitements of forest life; not a "paleface," but 
tanned by constant exposure to the Southern sun; dressed in crude, un- 
finished leatherns and moccasins; rifle slung over his shoulder, and shot- 
pouch, knives and tomahawk by his side, ready for any encounter, whether 
with the Indians on the plains or the wild beasts of the forests. Or, 
perhaps, he was disguised as an Indian? Indeed, that is not improbable, 
for instances are found in Colonial history of hunters resorting to that sub- 
terfuge when penetrating unknown regions where the redmen held un- 
disputed sway. 

What, we wonder, could have induced him to leave the comparatively 
peaceful settlements of Western Virginia and depart in quest of a distant 
and unknown country, infested with wild beasts and enemies not less sav- 
age? Did he have no fears that in the magnificent sweep of the waters 
of the Ohio he might at any moment be hurled to destruction? Or, per- 
haps, that in the falling night, when he had tied up his birch-bark and 
sat down on the bank of the great stream to eat his frugal meal, he 
might be ambushed by the prowling savages, and an end put then and 
there to his dreams of the conquest of the wilds? 


The further he traveled, the more he must have wondered at the wild 
grandeur and magaitude of the new country he had discovered, and, no 
doubt, still wondering, he went on and on, not knowing where and with 
no fixed destination, until, having reached the mouth of the Kentucky, 
feeling perhaps he had proceeded far enough on his initial attempt, he 
and his companions tied up their canoes and went ashore to explore this 
new and strange land. 

The place whence he started on his long and perilous journey, or the 
names of those who accompanied him, seem to be unknown to the early 
historians of Kentucky. It is supposed, however, that he must have come 
down the Big Sandy River, which has its source in Virginia, to where it 

joins the Ohio, and then proceeded westward along ^J^ S^^J^^f,^; T.' 

ifter having exhausted his search, returned homeward to relate 

ploit to his neighbors in the Virginia settlements. . jj^^j 

In an effort to obtain more detailed ^-''-;f:i:Z:^Xi^i^\n, 
known pioneer, the writer has esammed all of the .J^.™*^' , \g,j^ ad- 
Carolina records that are accessible to him. Inqmrxes ^-:^j'^l'2tiL 
dressed t6 historical societies in ^^-^^'^^y^ .'>''' ""^^^'^ZLJ^Tl^^^ 
seems to be available, other than that contained m these meagre artic es^ 

His career, subsequent to the period when Filson and Collms mention 
him as exploring Kentucky, seems to be shrouded m <'1>««^" f" f^'^ 
showing the way to other adventurous spirits, he seems to have i^^^W^^lf 
from hfstory, leaving no record of the tour of "the ^^^^j'^%^^\':'^^^' 
certain accounts of who discovered this province." The wilderness which 
he traversed now blooms with the arts and refinements of civil life, amid 
which the name of this pioneer Irishman is unknown, "unhonored and un- 

Other M'Beides Mentioked. 

A James McBrlde appears on the records of North Carolina of the 
year 1734. According to the North Carolina Genealogical and Historical 
Register for 1900, there is on record in the office of the Secretary of State 
at Raleigh the will of Benjamin Coin of Pasquotank, dated January 14, 
1734. In this will, the testator named his "son-in-law, James McBride, hia 
daughter, Betsy and his wife Bridget," as his only heirs. Pasquotank 
County borders on Nansemond County, Va., and it is quite possible that 
McBride was located in the latter county. There is nothing to indicate, 
however, that he was in any way identical with the first Kentucky explorer 
referred to by the historian, Filson. 

There are two James McBrides mentioned in early Kentucky history. 
One held the rank of Major and the other that of Captain of Kentucky 
Volunteers in the War of the Revolution. Major James McBride is men- 
tioned by Collins as one of the settlers at the fort of Harrodsburg, in 
Mercer County, in the summer of 1775. Of course, he may have been the 
pioneer explorer of Kentucky, but there is nothing on record to authenti- 
cate this. Collins seems to think that James McBride, "the first white 
man we have certain accounts of who discovered this province,'' was the 
same whose name appears among "the first lotholders of Lexington, on De- 
cember 16, 1781, when the plan of the town was adopted and the lots dis- 
posed of," an interesting old document which he discovered among the 
early records of the City of Lexington. In this list several Irish names 
appear, among them Stephen Collins and his two sons, William Hayden, 
James and Caleb Masterson, James McBride, Samuel Kelly, John, Hugh, 
Samuel and William Martin, Alexander, James, Francis and William Mc- 
Connell, Francis McDermid, James McGinty, Samuel MoMuUins, John Mor- 
rison, James Morrow, and Francis, Henry, Hugh, James, John and William 
McDonald. The McDonalds were descended from Bryan MacDonnell and 
Jane Doyle from Wicklow, a sketch of whom appeared in this paper a few 
months ago. 

James M'Beide, Revolutionary Officer. 

Twenty-five years after McBride's expedition into Kentucky, a Major 
Jaines ilcBride fought at the head of a band of Kentucky Volunteers in 
the War of the Revolution. At the battle of Blue Licks on August 18, 
1782, between the Kentuekians and the savage allies of the British, Mc- 
Bride was killed while leading a company of Volunteers. The historian 
says "he was long remembered for his bravery." 

The fighting Major of the Blue Licks, here mentioned, may possibly 
have been the James McBride spoken of by the historians as "the first 
white man who traversed these regions." Assuming that the explorer could 
hardly have been less than^ say, 25 years in 1754, which would make him 
about 53 in 1782, his age would not necessarily have prevented him from 
taking part in a fight for the liberty and independence of his country, 
especially against a foe that may have been the traditional enemy of the 
land of his fathers. 

Although Filson and Collins agree that James McBride was the dis- 
coverer of this territory, Abbott, another undoubted authority, in his "Life 
of Daniel Boone, the Pioneer of Kentucky," states that he was not the 
first white man to tread the soil of Kentucky. Some Indian traders had 
passed through there before his time, and it is interesting to relate that 
tlie first trader who is said to have passed through the Southern portion 
of tlie State as now constituted bore the Irish name of Doherty. "As early 
as the year 1690," says Abbott, " a trader from Virginia named Doherty 
crossed the mountains into what is now Kentucky, where he resided with 
the Indians. He visited the friendly Cherokee nation within the present 
bounds of Georgia and resided with them for several years." In 1730, an- 
other enterprising trader from South Carolina, named Adair, made an 
extensive • tour through the villages of the Cherokees and also visited the 
tribes to the South and West of them. 

Many Irish Traders. 

"Influenced by these examples," says the historian, "several traders in 
1740 went from Virginia to the country of the Cherokees." The names of 
these traders are not given by the Kentucky historians, but it is stated 
that a number of them hailed from the Monongahela River district of Penn- 
sylvania. Rupp, in his "History of Western Pennsylvania," shows that no 
small percentage of these itinerant merchants of the West and South were 
Irishmen. From the "Journal of Christian Post" — quoted by Rupp — who 
was sent from Philadelphia to Fort Pitt (Pittsburgh)' in the year 1758 
on a mission from the Governor of Pennsylvania to the Indians, to prevail 
on them to withdraw from their alliance with the French, we learn some 
interesting details concerning these Irish traders. 

On September 1, 1758, during a conference with the Indian chiefs, Post 
told them that "there are a great many Papists in the country who have 
sent many runaway Irish servants among you, who have put bad notions 
into your head and strengthened you against your brothers, the English." 
He then exhorted them "not to believe these ill-designing Irishmen," and 
adds by way of a memorandum in his Journal: "There are a great num- 

ber of Irish traders now among the Indians, who have always endeavored 
to split up the Indians against the English." 

Rupp mentions two of these Indian traders by name, Dennis Sullivan 
and Thomas Ward, who, with three others, "signed a treaty with the In- 
dians of the Six Nations at Logstown, on the Ohio, on May 28, 1751." 
Sparks, in his "Life of Washington," also refers to Indian traders from 
Western Pennsylvania named John McGuire and Barnaby Curran, who ac- 
companied Washington on his journey through Pennsylvania from Virginia, 
in November, 1753, to deliver a letter from the Grovernor of Virginia to 
the Commander of the French forces on the Ohio. Washington also refers 
to ilcGuire and Curran in his Journal. 

These traders carried on pack horses goods much valued by the Indians, 
which they exchanged for furs, and which were sold in Europe at an enor- 
mous profit. They kept up a friendly intercourse with the Cherokee na- 
tion, which, in after years, resulted in great advantages to the whites. 
They became acquainted with the country, as well as with the roads, such 
as they were, that led through the hunting grounds to the occupied terri- 
tory of other tribes. 

Irish Pioneers in Kentucky. 

Irishmen Were Among the Leading and Earhest Colonizers 

of the Blue Grass State. The Hardships 

of the McAfees. 

Many of the Irish pioneers of Virginia and Kentucky seem to have 
followed the trade of eoureurs des iois, (forest guides), river pilots and sur- 
veyors. The latter profession was a very lucrative one in the early days. 
The Provincial Governors and land companies used to send out surveyors 
to ascertain the nature of the country, to map out the location and course 
of the streams, and to locate the forests, mountains and plains. On return- 
ing to their posts, they rendered reports to their employers, and these 
topographical guides usually directed the course which the migrating com- 
panies followed to reach the places of their intended settlement. 

Thus we find that when Lord Dunmore, the English representative in 
Virginia in June, 1774, sent out a punitive expedition against the Indians, 
under the command of Colonel Angus McDonald, one Thady Kelly was se- 
lected to escort the troops. He piloted them up the Ohio and Muskingum 
Rivers as far as the present town of Dresden, Ohio. 

Another noted surveyor was Lucas Sullivan ( t ) , who was born of Irish 
parents in Mecklenburg County, Va., in 1765. He was a mere youth when 
he passed through the -wilderness of Kentucky and the Southern por- 
tion of Ohio, surveying lands and marking places suitable for the es- 
tablishment of future settlements. It was he who founded the town of 
Franklinton, in Franklin County, Ohio, and to where, after many adven- 
tures and encounters with the Indians, he returned in 1797 and settled 
down permanently. Among those who accompanied him to Franklinton 
are mentioned William Donigan, Arthur O'Harra and one McElvain. Sul- 
livant's three sons became prominent citizens of Ohio, and the youth of 
Franklinton to the present day are taught in "The Sullivant School." 

Other pilots and surveyors of Irish birth or descent, to whom we shall 
refer from time to time as we proceed, were John O'Bannon, James 
Flinn, Francis Dunlevy, John Reilly, Barney Curran, John Fitzpatrick, 
John Doran, Patrick and Garrett Jordan, Hugh Shannon, William Casey, 
and others of thte "Kellys, Burkes and Sheas" who are mentioned so fre- 
quently in the early records of the West, but whose names and deeds are, 
unfortunately, but little known, or, if known to any but the historian, are 
now entirely forgotten. 

M'Beide Followed by Finlet. 
The second exploration of Kentucky was undertaken i° 1767 by Jolin 
Finley. . daring hunter from the Yadkin River District of North Carolma, 
and who, if we are to judge from his name, may also have been an Irish- 
man. Finley was the first white man to cross the Cumberland Mountains 
and the first to discover the famous Cumberland Gap. 

"The country west of the Cumberland Mountains," says Abbott, "was 
considered by the inhabitants of Carolina and Virginia as involved m some- 
thing of the same obscurity which lay over the American continent after 
its discovery by Columbus." Abbott and Collins both say that Fmley or- 
ganized a party and crossed the Alleghanies into Kentucky, made a thor- 
ough exploration, of the country, and after the lapse of several months, 
"returned to tlie settlements on the Yadkin with a glowing story of the 
beauty and fertility of the country which they had seen." 

Daniel Boone "listened eagerly to his recital, "By the camp fires the 
wildest stories were told of the vast country that lay beyond the mountains, 
of the unexplored realms of the Indian tribes wandering there, of the for- 
ests filled with game, of the rivers alive with fishes, of the fertile plains, 
the floral beauty, the abounding fruit and the almost celestial clime. Finley 
and Boone sat hour after hour at the fireside talking of the newly dis- 
covered country, which resulted in a plan for the organization of a party 
to traverse those regions.'' 

A company comprised of six picked men was organized by Boone, 
among whom fl'ere John Finley, John Stewart, John Holden, James Mooney 
and William Cool. Here again we observe the readiness of the Irish set- 
tlers to take part in a daring adventure, beset with the greatest dangers 
and privations. 

Boone's wife was Rebecca Bryan, to whom he was married in 1755. 
Her brother, William Bryan, married Boone's sister, Mary, in the same 
year. They were the children of Morgan Bryan — who is said to have been 
of Irish descent. Boone was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, and was 
the grandson of a Colonist from England, who came from a Norman family 
named Bohun, which had settled in Britain some years before. Boone's 
father was a Catholic and was one of the early settlers of Maryland. In 
1750 he removed with his family to Alleman's Ford on the Yadkin River, 
in the same community where Morgan Bryan lived. 

An Ieish Schoolmasteb. 

Daniel was educated by an Irish schoolmaster, whose name, however, 
does not appear in any of the published lives of the great pioneer. He is 
mentioned particularly in Flint's "First White Man of the West," and by 
Abbott in his "Life of Daniel Boone." "There were no schools in those 
remote districts of log cabins," says Abbott. "But it so happened that an 
Irishman of some education strolled into that neighborhood, and Squire 
Boone engaged him to teach his children and those of the adjacent settle- 
ments. These hardy emigrants met with their axes in a central point of the 
wilderness and in a few hours constructed a rude hut of logs for a school- 


house." Here Daniel Boone was first taught to read and write by the rov- 
ing Irish schoolmaster. That was in 1734. 

John Finley originally went from Pennsylvania to Virginia, thence to 
North Carolina. In the War of the Revolution, he was ilajor of the Eighth 
Pennsylvania Regiment of Continental Troops. His descendants now live 
in Nicholas County, Kentucky. 

According to the narrative of Daniel Boone, dictated to John Filson in 
1784 by the noted pioneer himself, Boone and his party set out from the 
Yadkin on May 1, 1769, and after surmounting many difficulties, they ar- 
rived on June 7 at a place supposed to be in the vicinity of Abington, in 
Laurel County, where Finley had previously been trading with the Indians. 
The party remained two years and traversed the whole region. They 
were harassed by the Indians, and Boone was captured, but managing to 
make his escape, he returned to North Carolina in 1771 and spread through 
the Western settlements of Virginia and North Carolina the most glowing 
accounts of the inexhaustible fertility of the soil. 

In the second expedition of the celebrated pioneer, the ubiquitous Irish- 
man was again represented in the persons of James Mooney, Joseph Holden, 
John Kennedy and William Boland. Two years after Boone's return, Vir- 
ginia sent out surveyors to locate lands on the Ohio River. The first sur- 
veying party was under the command of Captain Thomas Bullitt, and ac- 
companying him we find three brothers named James, George and Robert 
McAfee, afterwards to become famous in Kentucky history. On the arrival 
of the party at the confluence of the Ohio and Kentucky Rivers — noted as 
the place whero James McBride disembarked nineteen years before, the Mc- 
Afees separated themselves from their companions and descended the latter 
river as far as the Forks of Elkhorn, exploring the country and making sur- 
veys in various places. They were exposed to fierce attacks by the Indians, 
but invariably managed to keep the savage redmen in check. 

Louisville Laid Out on Lands Owned by Irishmen. 

That was in the summer of 1773. Perkins, in his "Annals of the 
West," says that the McAfees, John Higgins, and some others, "separated 
from the main party and went up the river, explored the banks and made 
many important surveys, including the valley in which the Capital City of 
Frankfort now stands." Portion of the Bullitt expedition went on up the 
Kentucky River to the F^lls, and "laid out on behalf of John Campbell and 
John Connolly the plan of the present City of Louisville." The his- 
torians says that Campbell and Connolly were natives of Ireland. 

Five years later, in October, 1778, Collins says the permanent founda- 
tions of the City of Louisville were laid, by the erection of a fort by Cap- 
tain James Patton, Richard Chcnoweth, John Tuel (Toole?), William Faith 
and John McManus. He also says that "two surveys were made before 
Louisville was laid out," and that "the second "survey was made by William 
Peyton and Daniel Sullivan." In 1780, the Legislature of Virginia passed 
"an Act for the establishment of the town of Louisville at the Falls of the 
Ohio." By this Act, eight Trustees were appointed "to lay out the town 
on a tract of land which had been granted to John Connolly by the British 


Crown and which he had forfeited by his adherence to the royal cause." 
Among the eiglit Trustees are mentioned "Andrew Hynes and Daniel Sulli- 
Tan, Gentlemen." 

The M'Afee Bbothees. 

Mann Butler, a Kentuclcy historian, says the McAfee brothers were the 
sons of James McAfee, a pioneer of Botetourt County, Va. ' Fired by the 
glowing description of the beauty and fertility of Kentucky, they deter- 
mined to visit it in search of a new home, and on June 1, 1773, they struck 
out across the mountains to the Kanawha; Eiver, about four miles above 
the mouth of Elk River, where, having sent their horses back by John Me 
Cown and James Pawling, they descended the river in canoes." By pre- 
vious arrangement, they joined Hancock Taylor, the leader of another sur- 
veying party, with whom they ascended the Kentucky River as far as Dren- 
non's Lick. Here they found a white man named Joseph Drennon who had 
crossed the country one day ahead of the McAfees. 

"The unted companies joined the expedition under Captain Thomas 
Bullitt, and the three parties proceeded together down the Ohio as far as 
the mouth of Limestone Creek, where the City of Maysville now stands. 
At the mouth of the Kentucky the companies separated, the McAfee party 
followed a buffalo trace and crossed the river below Frankfort at what is 
now Lee's Town. Here they turned up the river and surveyed for 600 acres 
at the place where the Capital City was afterwards located, this being the 
first survey on the Kentucky River." 

Hardships of the Pioneers. 

From the Kentucky they took a Southeast course across Dick's River, 
and soon found themselves in a barren and mountainous region. For days 
they went without food, their feet were blistered and bruised by the rocks; 
no water could be found and no game. At length, Robert McAfee, by a 
lucky shot, the last in his pouch, managed to kill a deer which had strayed 
far from the herd, and thus the party was saved from starvation. After 
passing through many privations and horrors, the ragged and forlorn' party 
returned safely to their friends in Botetourt County. 

It will be observed that the historians differ slightly as to the details 
of the tour of the McAfees. Butler's statement is probably more correct 
than that of the others, for he says that his information was taken from 
the Original McAfee family papers, which are said to be still preserved as 
part of the records of Providence Church, the first established in Kentucky. 
"These papers," says Butler, "embrace the adventures of that enterprising 
and bold family from 1773 to the final settlement of the family in peace 
and in the plenty of Kentucky.'' We shall later quote extracts from these 
papers concerning the adventures of this- noted Irish-American family. 


Irish Pioneers in Kentucky. 

The McGarrys, Dentons and Hogans Formed the First 

Domestic Circle in Kentucky— The Brave, But 

Rash, Captain Hugh McGarry. 

"In Captain James Harrod's company of adventurers who came to Ken- 
tucky in 1774," says Collins, "was John Lynch. He occupied a cabin at 
Harrodsburg when, on September 8, 1775, General James Ray, accompanying 
his mother, Mrs. Hugh MoGarry, her husband and children, Richard Hogan 
and Thomas Denton with their families and several others, reached Har- 
rodsburg." John Hayes, a boy of fifteen, was one of the party. 

Among the "first Justices of the Peace appointed in Mercer County" 
were Hugh McGarry, Samuel McAfee^ John Irvine and Samuel McDowell, 
all of Harrodsburg. And "among the early settlers of Harrodsburg," says 
Collins, "distinguished for their bravery, activity and enterprise, were 
Majors Hugh McGarry, Harlan, McBride and Chapline. The former was 
ardent, impetuous and rash, but withal, a man of daring courage, in- 
domitable energy and untiring perseverance." 

The McGarrys, Dentons aiid Hogans came from the backwoods of North 
Carolina, and no doubt, like Boone, were from the Yadkin River District. 
Butler says that after Boone had returned from his second expedition to 
Kentucky he had arranged with the McGarrys, Dentons, Hogans and other 
settlers to proceed to Powel's Valley, on the head of Holston River, where 
they would effect a juncture and go on to Boonesborough. 

Boone's party, however, was attacked by Indians, several of his men 
were killed, and was thus prevented from joining his North Carolina neigh- 
bors. By common consent, McGarry was the leader of the party, and after 
waiting three months for Boone, they decided to go on alone. Arriving at 
the Dick River they became bewildered, and knew not which way to turn. 
Lofty, precipitous cliflfs confronted them and barred their path. McGarry 
went by himself to explore the way, and by accident fell on the 
path between Harrodsburg and Harrod's Station. The party soon arrived 
at the latter place, from where they were led to the settlement of Harrods- 

The First White Woman in Kentucky. 

Mrs. McGarry, Mrs. Denton and Mrs. Hogan were the first white 
women who are known to have lived in and formed the first domestic circle 
in Southeastern or Middle Kentucky. Collins says there were about fifty 


Catholic families in the territory about this time, the "^^J^f^y ''^ j\°/" 
were at Harrodsburg. They were largely composed, no doubt, of 

'"%r;rthem, ^r. George Hart, is referred to in Bishop Spaulding^ 
-Sketches of the Early Catholic Missions in Kentucky.' Benjamin J. 
Webb, in his "History of Catholicity in Kentucky," says Hart ^vas a na- 
five of Ireland, who settled first in Maryland, and in the Spring of 1775 
emigrated to Harrodsburg. Hart and William Coomes and family, ac- 
cording to Webb, were "the first Catholics who are known to have settled 
in Kentucky." (The author was probably unaware of the fact that the 
JIcGarrys and Hogans had settled there previous to that time, as we 
assume from their names these were Catholics ) . Dr. Hart he describes 
as "an exemplary Irish Catholic." "He was one of the first physicians, if 
not the very first, who settled in Kentucky." He lived for many years at 
Harrodsburg, where he was engaged in the practice of his profession. He 
gave the ground for and built the first Catholic Church in Kentucky, at 

Captain Hugh M'Gakey. 

Captain Hugh JIcGarry was a noted Kentucky soldier and pioneer. He 
fought under the famous Generals, George Rogers Clark and Benjamin 
Logan. In the War of the Revolution the Kentuckians, under the command- 
of Colonel Daniel Boone, Majors Harlan, Edward Bulger and James Mc- 
Bride, and Captains John Bulger, John JleJIurtry, Hugh McGarry and 
other ofiieers met the Indian allies of the British in several bloody conflicts. 

In one desperate fight, on December 19, 1782, on the banks of Licking 
River', near Bryan's Station, 160 men of their command met a large force 
of Indians. The Kentuckians met with a severe reverse, and McGarry was 
blamed for the defeat. When the Kentuckians reached the river they 
found the enemy sheltered behind rocks and trees, and, notwithstanding 
their superior numbers, did not venture forth to the banks of the stream, 
preferring to await the crossing of the Americans, when they Would swoop 
down like a vulture on its prey, and overwhelm the comparatively small 
band. The officers held a conference, and decided to wait the coming of Logan, 
who was then at Logan's Fort, several miles away, collecting reinforcements. 
"Two plans were proposed by Colonel Boone," says Butler, "one to divide 
into two parties and send one-half the men up the river, cross over and 
take the savages in the rear; the other to have the whole force remain 
intact and reconnoiter the ground well before crossing the river." 

il'GAEEY Led the Charge. 

But the impetuous MoGarry Avould brook no delay. He insisted that 
to pause in the face of the enemy would be an act of cowardice; that their 
superior strength was only an imaginary danger, and confident that the 
Indians would fiee on the first assault was unwilling to accept the more 
mature advice of Boone and his brother oificers. While the Council was - 
hesitating between the two plans proposed, lIcGarry suddenly spurred hij 
horse into the stream and cried aloud: "Let all who are not cowards 


follow me." The gallant band oould not endure this taunt, coming as it 
did from one who was extremely popular among them. 

"They dashed into the stream, each striving to be the foremost. 
They pressed forward in great disorder, with McGarry leading and fol- 
lowed by Boone, Harlan and McBride. They found themselves in a narrow 
valley. Th« ravines and rocks swarmed with Indians, who poured in a 
devouring fire." Majors Harlan, McBride, Gordon, Todd, Trigg, Bulger and 
other oflacers were killed, and "McGarry, although ' more deeply involved 
in the ranks of the enemy than any other officer, escaped totally unhurt." 
Sixty men were killed, a number wounded and seven captured and borne 
off by the enemy. 

Although the impetuous Irishman is roundly scored by the historians 
for his rash act,JButler says: "It is due to the memory of McGarry to 
say that he had counselled a delay of twenty-four hours at Bryan's Station 
until Logan could arrive with his reinforcements." If his advice had not 
then been rejected the Kentuckians, in all probability, would have been 
saved a disastrous defeat. 

Captain John M'Mtietet. 

Only very few of the killed and wounded were ever recorded, but 
among the few we notice the Irish names John Kennedy and Andrew Mc- 
Connell. Four of the seven prisoners were slain by the Indians, and Cap- 
tain John McMurtry was one of the three whose lives were spared through 
the timely intervention of an Indian chief. The prisoners were forwarded 
to Montreal, and in July 1783, were exchanged and sent to Tieonderoga, 
whence they reached their homes in Harrodsburg on August 28. Mc- 
Murtry was in several engagements afterwards, and fell in the battle of 
Miami River, near Chillicothe, 0., known as Harman's defeat, on October 
22, 1790. Captain McClure, a Mr. McClary, and Major McMullin, who 
commanded the militia, are conspicuously mentioned as participants in 
this battle. According to a sketch of Captain John Rose, which appeared 
in the Harrodsburg Central Watchtower of February 28, 1829, written by 
General Robert B. McAfee, one of the historians of the War of 1812, "the 
brave McMurtry's name heads the list of the honored dead of Kentucky, en- 
graved upon the Battle Monument." 

John MoMurtry went from Virginia to Kentucky, and was one of the 
earliest settlers at Harrodsburg. He built the first grist mill run by 
water power in Kentucky, near Shakertown, in 1782. His cousin, William 
MoMurtry, was a noted Indian fighter. His biographer assumes, without 
having any knowledge of his antecedents, that he was of Scotch descent, 
but, as the name is just as Irish as it is Scotch, and indeed more so, we 
venture to include his name in this category of Kentucky's Irish settlers. 

The McGarry family were prominent in the early days of Kentucky. 
They were land owners, and after the war were extensive dealers in horses. 
The records of the Court of Oyer and Terminer of August, 1783, show that 
Hugh McGarry was fined for betting on a horserace on the previous May 
15th. For this very grievous offence the Court pronounced "that Hugh 
McGarry, Gentleman, be deemed an infamous gambler, and that he shall 


not be liable to any oflSee of trust within the State." An "infamous gen- 
tleman" is a, term that may be difficult to define according to modern 
ethics ! 

Oollins says that "in 1812 Hugh MeGarry built a log cabin on the 
present site of the City of Evansville, Ind., which was the first dwelling 
erected by a white man in that section of the Indian Territory." Evans- 
ville was founded four years later, 

Pateick Kennedy, Westebn Explobeb. 

We also find traces of Irish pioneers even further West about this 
time. In 1773, one Patrick Kennedy and several companions started from 
the French settlement at Kaskaskia, now in Randolph County, 111., and 
explored the country along the Mississippi River from Kaskaskia to a con- 
siderable distance beyond the site of the present City of St. Louis. 

In Imlay's America (published in London in 1797), the author refers 
to "the Journal of Patrick Kennedy, giving an account of an expedition 
undertaken by himself and several coureurs des lois in the year of 1773, 
from Kaskaskia village to the headwaters of the Illinois River." Ken- 
nedy's Journal is almost entirely devoted to the topography of the coun- 
try, rather than to the results of the expedition which he commanded. 
The information contained in his Journal is admitted to have been of 
great value to the government and people of that section for many years. 

According to Collins, "the first visitors to Boone County were the 
McAfee brothers, George Croghan, James McCoun, Joseph Drennon, Wil- 
liam Bracken and John Fitzpatrick, who arrived there in July, 1773." Is 
it not remarkable that they all bore Irish names? Colonel Croghafi was 
the father of Major Croghan, the heroic defender of Fort Stephenson, an 
acooixnt of whose great exploit we hope to give in a later paper. He was 
born in Ireland. 

The first surveys in Bracken County were made by Bullitt and Fitz- 
patrick in 1773, and by John Doran in 1774. This was on Locust Creek. 

In 1774, Boone returned to Kentucky, and in the following April he 
constructed a fort in what is now Clark County, and since called Boones- 
borough. In September, 1774, Colonel Richard Calloway and others, with 
their families, reached the settlement, and in March, 1776, Colonel Benja- 
min Logan, descendant of an Irish pioneer, brought his wife and family 
to Logan's Fort, near Stanford, in Lincoln Coimty. 

When Kentucky was formed into a, county of Virginia, in 1776, Logan 
and Calloway were among the four Justices appointed. Logan, was a 
General of the Revolutionary Army. Judge William Logan, his eldest son, 
"one of the most gifted and eminent of the early sons of Kentucky," was 
bom in the fort at Harrodsburg on December 8, 1776. 

Neaelt 50 Pee Cent. Gaels. 

From "depositions and other authenticated statements," examined by 
Judge Collins, he shows that the following persons were residents of Har- 
rodsburg during the year 1775: John Dougherty, John Cowan, William 
Crowe, William Field, James Gilmore, John Higgins, Henry Higgins, Richard 


Hogan, Patrick Jordan, Garrett Jordan, Daniel Linn, Jolin Lynch, James, 
Eobert, George, Samuel and William McAfee, James MoCo(wn, John McCown, 
Hugh McGarry, John MeG«e, William MoMurtry, Alexander McNeil, James 
Kay and Thomas Ryan. Of 54 families which comprised the entire settlement 
at that time 25 bore Irish names. Several of these were at Harrodaburg 
before Daniel Boone's party from North- Carolina had yet reached Ken- 
tucky, and laid the foundations of Boonesborough. 

An erroneous impression prevails that the first permanent settlement 
in Kentucky was at Boonesborough in 1775, but Collins shows that the 
earliest settlement was that of Harrodsburg in 1774, in which the Irish 
pioneers took part. When Boonesborough was established as a town, by an 
Act of the Virginia Legislature in October, 1779, trustees were appointed, 
among whom are mentioned Edward Bradley, John and Thomas Kennedy, 
and William Irvine, James Hogan is mentioned as having conducted a 
ferry across the Kentucky River at Boonesborough in 1785. 


Irish Pioneers in Kentucky. 

John Reilly and Francis Dunlevy, Sons of Irish Immigrants, 
Established the First Schools in the Settle- 
ments of, the Ohio. 

According to Collins, the present town of Columbia, on the Ohio, was 
laid out by a party of 18 men who came down that river in November, 
1788, and landed at the mouth of the Little Miami, where they erected a 
log fort. Among the party, the historian mentions Captain James Flinn, 
John Reilly and Francis Dunlevy. 

This John Eeilly is distinguished as the first schoolmaster in the 
American settlements on the Ohio. There are many authorities for this 
statement, among them Collins' "History of Kentucky," Venable's "Begin- 
nings of Literary Culture in Ohio," the "Magazine of Western History for 
February, 1888," and McEride's "Pioneer Biography of Butler County, O." 
He was also the first to establish a school in Cincinnati. 

Eeilly was born in Chester, Pa., on April 10, 1763. His father had 
emigrated from Ireland some years previously, and after spending some 
time in Philadelphia, settled on a farm near Chester. When the future 
schoolmaster was only six years old the family removed to Staunton, in 
Augusta County, Va. This part of Virginia was then a frontier settle- 
ment, and the Reillys, among others, were under the necessity of congre- 
gating in block houses or forts for security against the attacks of the 

At the age of seventeen John Reilly joined the First Virginia Regiment 
of the Revolutionary Army and served 18 months under General Greene. 
The young soldier received his baptism of fire in the battle of Guilford 
Court House on March 15, 1781, at which he had the satisfaction of seeing 
the enemies of his father's, and his own country fly before the victorious 
American troops. His second engagement was at the battle of Camden, 
S. C, on April 25, 1781, in which he witnessed — and probably with shame 
and chagrin — the so-called "Irish Volunteers" under Lord Rawdon fighting 
on the side of his country's enemies. He was with the army of General 
Greene when in the following May it invested the town of Ninety-Six, 
which the British had fortified. 

He fought at the battle of Eutaw Springs on September 18, 1781, in 
which we are told "he distinguished himself for his bravery." The re- 
sult of this battle was that the enemy was crippled in the South. 

After leaving the army, he returned to his home in Virginia, but be- 
coming excited by the favorable accounts of the rich country in the West, 
lie left his home in the winter of 1783 and set out to seek Ms fortune in 
the wilds of Kentucky. He was busily engaged in the vicinity of Danville 
for about six years as a manufacturer of machinery for the settlers and 
planters of that section. He also taught school at the same time. 

Irish Among the First in Columbia, 0. 

Here he met the noted hunter and pioneer. Captain James Flinn, and 
his future friend and co-worker, Francis Dunlevy. In 1788 Flinn organized 
an expedition to the then Northwest Territory and proceeded to the Ohio 
River, where they erected a blockhouse on the spot where the City of Co- 
lumbia, O., now stands. It is related that ^hile the fort was being 
built some of the settlers had to stand guard while the others were at 
work. Among the little band of adventurers who first settled where Colum- 
bia now is, like a forlorn hope, and who preceded the mutitude who were 
to follow, were Captain Flinn, his father and two brothers, Daniel Griffin, 
Hugh Dunn, Cornelius Hurley, Patrick Moore, William Moore and James 
Manning, besides Eeilly and Dunlevy. 

The county histories of this section of Ohio indicate that Irish immi- 
grants were among the first to settle there. There was one large settle- 
ment called Coleraine, seventeen miles from the City of Cincinnati, which 
was established in 1790 by a number of emigrants from Coleraine, in An- 
trim. In January, 1791, the settlers at Columbia were alarmed by the ar- 
rival of an express from Cincinnati of an Indian attack on Dunlap's Sta- 
tion at Coleraine. John Reilly and Patrick Moore hastily summoned a 
party of volunteers for the purpose of relieving Dunlap and his neighbors. 
Eeilly and Moore went in advance of the main body to give notice in case 
the enemy should spring a surprise. The party proceeded cautiously until 
they reached Coleraine, where they met the Indians and drove them off. 

The settlement was attacked on several occasions, and the author of 
"Pioneer Biography of Butler County" mentions Keilly and Captain Flinn 
as among the most eager in turning out and scouring the vicinity for 
traces of the Indians. 

The First School in Ohio. 

It was on June 21, 1790, that Reilly opened the first school in Colum- 
bia. In the following year, Dunlevy, who had in the meantime returned 
to Kentucky, rejoined Reilly. Immigrants came flocking into the neigh- 
borhood, making it necessary to enlarge the school, Dunlevy taking the 
classical department and Reilly the English. A warm friendship sprung 
up between the two Irish-American schoolmasters, which was terminated 
only by the death of Dunlevy at Lebanon, Ky., on November 5, 1839. 

Dunlevy was born near Winchester, Va., of Irish parents, on December 
31, 1761. When about ten years old, his father removed with his family 
to' Pennsylvania. At the age of 14, we are told, Francis shouldered his 
rifle and served in a campaign against the Indians, continuing in the mili- 
tary service until the close of the Revolutionary War. He assisted in 


building Fort Mcintosh at the mouth of Beaver River in the Spring of 
1778, this having been the first regularly built fort within the territory 
now comprising the State of Ohio. He was at the disastrous battle of the 
plains of Sandusky, where the commander of the American troops. Colonel 
Crawford, was tortured and burned to death by the Indians. Dunlevy and 
two others managed to make their escape through the wilderness to Pitts- 

In 1797, he again returned to Kentucky with his father and family, 
and settled down in Lebanon. He was a member of the Convention which 
framed the first constitution of the State of Ohio and a member of the 
first Legislature under the State Government, which met in 1803. 

An Eablt Ibish-Ambeican Judge. 

When the Judiciary was first organized he was appointed Presiding 
Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, which office he held for 14 years, 
during all which time he is said never to have missed a single court in any 
of the counties comprising his circuit. "No obstacle prevented his at- 
tending to his duties," says the historian, McBride. "There were few 
roads or bridges in those days, and many a time he crossed the swollen 
streams, swimming either on his horse or by its side, rather than fail to 
be at Ms post." When his term on the bench expired, he practiced law for 
15 years, after which he retired to private life. 

In 1793 Reilly gave up his interest in the school to Dunlevy, and de- 
voted himself to the more extensive cultivation of his land in Butler 
County, 0. On September 16, 1799, he was elected Clerk of the first Gen- 
eral Assembly of the Territorial Legislature. He was appointed by the 
Governor one of the first Trustees and Clerk and Collector of the town 
when Cincinnati received its charter on January 1, 1802. He promoted 
the establishment of the first library in Cincinnati on February 13, 1802, 
and -was one of the representatives from Hamilton County at the Con- 
vention held at Chillieothe to form a Constitution. 

In 1803, he was appointed Clerk of the Court of Common Pleas, one of 
the Judges was James Dunn. He held the office of Clerk of the Court until 
March 14, 1840, a period of nearly 37 years. He was also Clerk of the 
Supreme Court, holding both offices concurrently. One of his predecessors 
in the latter office was Hugh Boyle. 

First Judge of Butleb County. 

Between 1803 and 1811, he was Recorder of Butler County, having 
been the premier occupan/t of that office. In 1804 he was appointed by 
President Jefferson first postmaster of Hamilton, which office he held until 
1832, when he resigned. In 1809 he became one of the Trustees of Miami 
University and was President of the Board until the reorganization of the 
College in 1824. 

Notwithstanding all his multifarious business, he took an active in- 
terest in everything that made for the improvement and advancement of 
the settlements, particularly in the education of their youth. The old 
ipioneep was one of the most beloved men in the State. Young and old 


■worshipped him. He was a man of the most strict and uncompromising 
integriity, and when he died at Hamilton on June 7, 1850, the Courts ad- 
journed in respect to his memory. 

Son of an Ibish Immigrant. 

And John Reilly, be it remembered, was the son of a poor Irish immi- 
grant who had been exiled from his native land by the ever benign 
British Government. 

Colonel Robert Reilly of the 75th Ohio Infantry, who distinguished 
himself in several battles of the Civil War, was his youngest son. He died 
of his wounds at the battle of Chancellorsville. His regiment has been 
highly praised by the historians of the war. Reid's "Ohio in the War," 
says: "To Colonel Reilly, more than to any other, belongs the credit of 
the fine discipline, conduct and efficiency of the regiment." 


Irish Blood in Kentucky. 

The County Histories Teem With Gaelic Names-Several of 
the Counties Called After Irish Pioneers. 

In the county histories of Kentucky are mentioned a great number 
of Irish names, and the descendants of many of the early settlers from Ire- 
land are shown to have become prominent in the history of the State. 
Collins takes up each county separately and goes into much detail concern- 
ing their early history. Several of the counties were named m honor of 
Irish pioneers or their sons. 

Allen County is called after Colonel John Allen, who emigrated from 
Virginia with his father in 1780, in which year they made their first settle- 
ment at Dougherty's Station in Boyle County. The first white man 
mentioned in connection with Allen County is James McCall. Butler 
says that the following inscription, cut in a tree near Big Barren River 
in that county, southeast of Bowling Green, had been seen by many 
old settlers of that region, even during the lifetime of the historian him- 
self: "James JleCall dined here on his way to Natchez, June 10, 1770." 
MeCall, no doubt, was one of the Indian traders already referred to. 

In Green's "Historic Families of Kentucky" are found some inter- 
esting references to the family which gave its name to Allen County. 

"James Allen was born in Ireland and was the son of James Allen, 
who lost his life in one of the political uprisings in that country. After 
his death, his widow and children determined to emigrate to the Colonies. 
She sold the small property which belonged to the family and transmitted 
the proceeds by an agent, to be invested in a new home in Pennsylvania, 
near the Virginia line. When the arrived here, they found that no 
deed had been taken for the laud they had bought, and the widow and her 
offspring were without home or money among strangers. They were of the 
self-reliant sort, however, and, refusing to succumb to adverse fortune, 
with brave hearts and stout arms they all set out to win a new home and 
to wrest success from the hands of chance. In time, they found their way 
to the Valley of Virginia, where so many of their country-people had set- 
tled, and where they prospered, took root and put forth branches. Some 
of their descendants yet remain in Augusta and Rockbridge Counties. 


Many Vibginia Fajhilies of Ieish Origin. 

"There are numerous other families that trace their origin to ancestors 
who emigrated from Ireland to the Valley, who have the same given names 
and physical attributes, similar to those of the descendants of the Irish 
widow, but no connection is known to have existed between them. 

"James Allen, attracted by the fame of the richer lands and wider 
field for enterprise afforded by Kentucky, converted all his property in 
Virginia into money, and in the year 1779, with his family in a wagon, 
set out across the mountains, braving the perils of the wilderness, and 
proceeded along the old road over which the earlier hunters and settlers 
had preceded him. He ended his toilsome journey at Dougherty's Station, 
a few miles from Danville. There he remained several months, where he 
formed a warm friendship for Joseph Daviess, who, like himself, was the 
son of an Irishman. 

"Tiring of the confinement of a station, and anxious to remove their 
families from its rude associations, Allen and Daviess determined to hazard 
the perils of an exposed and isolated location further down Clark's Run, 
where they built two , cabins, the first erected in that section of Ken- 
tucky outside a fort or station. There the stout-hearted friends lived for 
three years, remote from neighbors and in tiie midst of constant dangers 
from savage warfare. Seldom? if ever, have there sprung from two ad- 
joining log cabins six more remarkable men than the sons of Joseph 
Daviess and James Allen — Joseph, Hamilton, Samuel and Judge James 
Daviess, and Colonel John, Joseph and James Allen. 

Peivations of the Aluens. 

"About the year 1784, James Allen bought a large tract of land near 
the present town of Bloomfield, Nelson County, and after building upon 
it a comfortable dwelling, returned to his cabin in Lincoln County for his 
family; but, when he had conveyed his wife and children to his new pos- 
sessions, he found their intended home in ashes, the Indians during his 
absence having burned it and the sheltering fort near which it was built. 

"With indomitable energy and unyielding will, another home soon oc- 
cupied the site of the one destroyed, a commodious residence which 
stands to this day, and was until recently owned by his great-grandson, 
who bears his name. Here he lived to an extreme old age, in the midst 
of broad acres his rifle had helped to redeem from the Indians, and which 
had been converted by his labor from a wild canebrake into a blooming 
and fruitful garden; blessed with abundance, far beyond the rosiest dreams 
of the Irish lad who had crossed the ocean with his widowed mother nearly 
a century before; respected by all for the courage, strong sense, and in- 
corruptible integrity which were his distinguished characteristics, and 
with the public praise of his offspring making sweet music for his 


Thus Green briefly describes the struggles and the fortunes of the Irish 
family which gave its name to Allen County, Kentucky. 


Col. Allen, Lawyeb, Legislatob and Soldier. 

Colonel John Allen, the son of the Irish immigrant, was born in Eock- 
bridge County, Va., in 1771. He was a lawyer, and, "in the practice of his 
profession, he outstripped all competition and almost immediately placed 
himself in the front rank of the brilliant generation which then gave the 
Commonwealth a fame which still clings to her in tradition." He married 
the daughter of General Benjamin Logan, and was a Representative of 
Shelby County in the State Legislature. In 1807, he was elected to the 
Kentucky Senate from Franklin Coimty. In 1811, he commanded as 
Colonel the First Kentucky Riflemen, the first regiment raised in that 
State to figiht the British. His military career was short, for he fell 
mortally wounded at the battle of the River Raisin on January 22, 1813. 

Among the first settlers of Ballard County is mentioned Daniel Doolin, 
who came there in 1818, and settled in Barlow City. In this county was 
Fort Jefferson, the scene of a battle with the Chickashaw Indians in 1782. 
Among the soldiers who defended the fort are mentioned Curry, Doyle, 
Montgomery, Piggot and Hughes. 

In Barren County a family named McFerran settled at an early date, 
two of whose descendants were Judge W. R. McFerran and General John 
C. McFerran of Louisville, who distinguished himself in the Mexican War. 
Edmund Rogers, one of its pioneers, was born in Virginia in 1762 and 
came to Kentucky in 1783. He served in the campaign of 1781 which re- 
sulted in the capture of Lord Cornwallis. His brother, Captain John 
Rogers, also of the Revolutionary Army, ''rendered valuable services to the 
State in locating and surveying lands." Butler says that James McCall 
passed through Barren County in 1770, where he cut his name in a tree 
on the Green River. 

Francis Downing is mentioned among the early settlers of Bath 
County, where he lived in a fort in the year 1786. 

In the early history of Bell County we find references to several Irish 
Pioneers. In 1769, we are told that John Rains, Robert Crockett and 
Humphrey Hogan, at the head of a company of 20 men from Virginia and 
North Carolina, passed through that region. They hunted through the 
neighborhood for a year and then returned home via the Cumberland and 
Mississippi Rivers. In the Fall of 1771, William Lynch, David Lynch, 
John Montgomery, William Allen, one Hughes and several others, com- 
prised a hunting party that passed through this county, where some of 
them settled down permanently. They are described as daring men, who 
knew no hardships, and who maintained their position only by constant 
and unceasing vigilance. 

Kidnapped Feom Ibeland. 

In Bourbon County were James Mcltowell in 1774, and James Kenny 
""i/^^^'. f^t ""'"'^ ^™™ Virginia. There were also McGuires, McCon- 
nells and McOlanahans. Thomas Kennedy came there in 1776 and built 
a cabm on Kennedy's Creek. Collins says that his father, James Kennedy, 
hved for several years at Boonesborough Fort. He relates that when a 


boy of seven years he was kidnapped in Ireland with several other hoys, 
brought to Maryland and sold for a term of years, vrhich they served out. 
In 1781, he was in practice as a medical doctor in Bedford County, Va., 
and in February of that year he was summoned to join a British draft for 
regular soldiers. He refused and was taken prisoner shortly after the 
battle of Guilford Court House, placed on board of prison-ship, and "liter- 
ally starved to death." His son, Thomas Kennedy, was one of the first 
County Court Justices of Campbell County, and became a prominent 
member of the Kentucky Legislature. In 1792, he was appointed one of 
the five Commissioners to fix upon Frankfort as the seat of Government. 


Irish Pioneers in Kentucky. 

Butler County Takes Its Name From an Irish Family— Four 

of the Kilkenny Butlers Were Officers of 

the Revolutionary Army. 

Boyle County was named in honor of Chief Justice John Boyle, wiho 
was born on October 28, 1774, at a place called Castlewoods on the Clinch 
River, in Virginia. In 1779 he went with his father, an Irish immigrant, to 
Whiteley's Station, Ky., from where he afterwards moved to a small es- 
tate in Garrard County. 

He became a lawyer at Lancaster and was elected member of Congress 
in 1802. As a National Legislator, he is described as "dignified, vigilant 
and useful, commanding at once the respect and confidence of his associates." 
President Madison appointed him first Governor of Illinois. In 1809 he 
was elected to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, and in 1810 became Chief 
Justice, which exalted ofiiee this brilliant son of an Irish immigrant oc- 
cupied until 1826. Chief Justice Boyle is referred to by Kentucky his- 
torians as one of the ablest lawyers that State has ever produced. 

Breckinridge County is called after the distinguished lawyer and states- 
man, John Breckinridge, son of Colonel Robert Breckinridge of Augusta 
County, Va., who was born there in 1760 of Irish parentage. The date of 
his father's arrival from Ireland is not given. His ancestors came over 
from Scotland to Ireland in the early part of the seventeenth century. As 
a statesman, very few men of his generation occupied a more commanding 
position than John Breckinridge or had more to do with all the great 
questions of the day. 

In Bullitt County lived a family named O'Bannon, one of whom. Colonel 
John O'Bannon, is mentioned as taking part in a fight with Indians near 
Jeffersonville, Xnd., in 1786. One Kelly fought under him. 

The O'Bannons are mentioned in the history of several of the Kentucky 
Counties. The town of O'Bannon in Jefferson County was named after 
this family. There are also places of that name in Ohio and Tennessee. 
Colonel John O'Bannon, as well as Presley B. O'Bannon, fought in the 
Revolutionary War. The latter was the engineer who surveyed the lauds 
owned by George Washington on the Ohio and Miami Rivers, and which are 
now, and have been for many years, the subject of litigation before +he 
Supreme Court of the United States. 


Butler County Called After a Dublin Man. 

Butler County was named after General Richard Butler of Revolu- 
tionary War fame. The family was from Kilkenny, but Richard was born 
in St. Bridget's Parish, Dublin, on July 1, 1743. 

In previous papers, we have had something to say of this distinguished 
family of soldiers, and we shall now quote what Judge Collins had to say 
of them in his "History of Kentucky." 

"Few of the prominent families of Kentucky have been so generously 
distinguished as this for their high military bearing and gallantry, genuine 
good sense and longevity; while no other is so singularly retiring and 
modest, and so free from political ambitions and desire for public position. 
The family is of Irish descent. The first Butler, most of whose descendants 
now live in Carroll County and in the cities of Covington and Louisville, 
was Thomas Butler, who was born in Kilkenny, April 8, 1720. Of his five 
sons who attained eminence in America, Richard, William and Thomas 
were born in Ireland, Percival (or Pierce) and Edward were born in Penn- 
sylvania. All of them were officers of the Revolutionary Army, except 
Edward, who was too young, but who entered it before its close. 

"Richard was Lieutenant^Colonel of Morgan's celebrated rifle regiment 
and helped to give it its high character and fame. He was afterwards 
Colonel of the Ninth Pennsylvania Regiment, and commanded the left wing 
in the memoraible attack on Stony Point. 

"After the war he became Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and in 
1788 was appointed Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. In 1790 he 
was made a Major-General, and was placed second in command of an army 
organized by General St. Clair for an expedition against the Western 
Indians. He was killed while leading his forces at Fort Recovery, Ohio, 
on November 4, 1791." 

Died in Thick of the Fight. 

MoBride's "Pioneer Biography of Butler County, Ohio," states that 
when a body of volunteers from the neighborhood of Columbia was formed 
by General Wilkinson in January, 1792, to proceed to the scene of St. 
Clair's defeat for the purpose of burying the dead that had been left on 
the field and to bring away valuable property, "they found the body of 
General Butler, where it lay in a group of slain where evidently had been 
the thickest of the carnage." Truly a fitting place for an Irish soldier to 

Among the officers of the "Regulars" who were killed at Fort Recovery 
are mentioned Major McMahon, Capts. Doyle and Phelon, Lieutenants 
Cummings and Hart. Among the wounded were Major Thomas Butler 
and Captain Malarkie. In Howe's "Historical Collections of Ohio" we find 
the following reference to the gallant Major McMahon: "McMahon was 
a famous Indian fighter and Captain and was classed by the borderers of 
the upper Ohio with Brady and the Wetzels. He lost his life at Fort 
Recovery while gallantly defending the fort." (The Brady here referred 
to was the famous partisan, Captain Thomas Brady of Pennsylvania, of 



whose romantic career we gave a brief description in our papers 
on Pennsylvania.) Major McMahon is described by other historical 
writers of Ohio as a splendid type of the Celt, six and a half 
feet tall, of "magnificent proportions,'' "great daring," and "a terror 
to the Indians." All the immediate descendants of the Butlers 
were engaged in the military service of the country in all the 
wars before 1800, while the survivors were in the War of 1812 and not less 
than nine of a younger generation were in the Mexican War. 

The Iekepbessible Thomas Butlek. 

An anecdote is preserved in a sketch written by General Findlay of 
Cincinnati, which shows the character of the race and that its military 
instinct was an inheritance. While the five sons were absent from home in 
the army, the old man took it into his head to go also. The neighbors 
collected to remonstrate against it, but his wife said: "Let him go! I 
can get along without him, and raise something to feed the army in the 
bargain, and the coimtry wants every man who can shoulder a musket." 

This extraordinary zeal did not escape the observation of Washington, 
and hence the toast he gave at his own table while surrounded by a large 
party of officers: "The Butlers and their five sons." General Lafayette 
too was an admiring observer of this house of soldiers, and in a letter now 
extant paid them this handsome tribute: "When I wanted a thing well 
done I ordered a Butler to do it." 

General Percival Butler was born at Lancaster, Pa., in 1760. At 18 
he entered the Revolutionary Army as a Lieutenant, was at the battle of 
Monmouth, passed through the rigors of "Valley Forge and was at the 
taking of Yorktown. For a short time he was attached to a light corps 
under Lafayette, who presented him with a sword. In 1784 he settled as a 
merchant in Jessamine County, Ky., where he became Adjutant-General- 
of the Army. He served in the War of 1812. 

His son, Colonel Thomas L. Butler, who was born in Jessamine County 
in 1789, was aid to General Jackson at the 'battle of New Orleans, and 
because of his coolness and prudence was left by Jackson in command of 
the city to protect it against outbreaks. He became a member of the 
Kentucky House of Eepresentatives in 1826 and also in 1848. 

A Family of Soldiebs. 

Another son. General William 0. Butler, also born in Kentucky, joined 
the army when very young. He fought in several battles of the War of 
1812 and at the two battles of the River Raisin, in January, 1813, he signal- 
lized himself by his great bravery. He was wounded and taken prisoner. 
After his release he served as Captain of the 44th U. S. Infantry in the 
attack on Pensacola, General Jackson, in referring to his conduct at the 
battle of New Orleans, said: "He displayed the heroic chivalry and calm- 
ness of judgment in the midst of danger which distinguished the valiant 
officer in the hour of battle." 


After his return to Kentucky he studied law, became a member of the 
Legislature, and was elected Member of Congress in 1839. In 1844 he was 
Democratic candidate for Governor, and subsequently received the honor 
of the nomination for Vice-President of the United States on the Democratic 
ticket with General Cass, but they were defeated by Taylor and Fillmore. 
In the Mexican War he was Major-General of Volunteers, and on February 
18, 1848, succeeded General Scott in chief command of the United States 

The third son of General Percival Butler, Eichard P. Butler, was 
Assistant Adjutant-General in the War of 1812. His fourth son, Peroival, 
studied law and became eminent in his profession. He represented Fayette 
County in the Kentucky House of Representatives, and later as Senator 
from Louisville. 

Of such were the Butlers of Kentucky, the sons and grandsons of the 
Butlers from "the old marble town of Kilkenny." They were the types 
of men who, like many of their countrymen and their sons, helped to wrest 
Kentucky from the savage, redeemed her waste places, carried the torch 
of learning into the wilderness, founded the State, and left the impress of 
their own characteristics upon the people. If in this country there are 
any families which can properly be called "historic," surely the Butlers, 
"the fighting Butlers," as they are sometimes called — may well be regarded 
as constituting one of those families. 


Footsteps of the Gael in Kentucky. 

A Remarkable Series of Papers, Showing That Irishmen and 

Their Sons Occupied a Prominent Place in the 

Early Days of the Blue Grass State. 

Campbell County was named in honor of Colonel John Campbell, a 
native of Ireland, who, Collins says, came to Kentucky at an early period. 
He received a grant of 4,000 acres from the Commonwealth of Virginia and 
where Louisville now stands. He was a member of the Convention which 
formed the firm Constitution of Kentucky and was a Senator from 
Jefferson County in the State Legislature. He was the owner of a very 
fine estate. ' 

The first Sheriff of Campbell County was Captain Nathan Kelly, who, 
in 1795, was also a Justice of the County. The City of Newport is in 
Campbell County, and Major A. JI. Dunn was Postmaster there in 1795. 
The first charter of Xewport was adopted on December 14 in that year. 
When the city was first planned, certain property was parcelled out into 
lots and streets and was vested in ■ eight Trustees, among whom were 
Thomas Kennedy, Nathan Kelly, James McClure and Daniel Duggan. 

Carroll County was named in honor of the famous Charles Carroll of 
Carrollton. The first white man who trod its soil was James McBride, 
the premier explorer of Kentucky. 

Casey County was named in memory of Colonel William Casey, who 
was member of the House of Representatives from this district. Later 
representatives in the Legislature from this County were named Coffey and 

Colonel Casey was born in Frederick County, Va., of Irish parents. 
In company with two or three families, who pushed their fortunes with him, 
he removed into the district in 1779, and located and built a station on the 
Green Eiver, near Russell's Creek. "Though feeble in numbers," says 
Collins, "the hardy baud of pioneers by whom he was surrounded, and who 
reposed in Casey unbounded confidence as a leader, maintained themselves 
gallantly and victoriously against several attacks by the Indians. Casey's 
station was subsequently reinforced by several families whose presence was 
instrumental in preventing any further assault on the part of the Indians." 


James Flanagan, Pioneeb 

In Clark County, James Flanagan is mentioned as the builder of the 
first mill. That was in 1800. One of the pioneer's sons, William Flanagan, 
graduated at the West Point Military Academy in 1827, "standing first in 
the class with General Albert Sidney Johnston, General Joseph Johnston, 
and other men who won such brilliant reputations in later yeears." Flan- 
agan died in early life, "leaving," says Collins, "an enviable reputation 
for brilliancy, wit and repartee." For several years he was official sur- 
veyor and school commissioner in Clarke County. There is a town called 
Flanagan in that county which was named, no doubt, after the Irish miller 
or his son. 

The first white man known to have entered into the present bounds of 
Clay County was James Collins, who came there in 1798. He built his cabin 
upon the headwaters of Collins' Fork, and in 1800, from a salt spring 
which he had discovered while following a buffalo trail some time previous- 
ly, he made the first salt ever made in that section. 

Burkesville, the county seat of Cumberland County, was named in 
honor of one of the original proprietors, who migrated there from Virginia. 

Bbilliant Son of an Ibish Exile. 

Daviess County is called after Colonel John H. Daviess, who was born 
in Bedford County, Va., in 1774. His father was an Irishman and his 
mother Scotch. His biographer says: "The marked peculiarities of each 
of those races were strongly developed in the character of their son. The 
hardy self-reliance, the indomitable energy and imperturbable coolness, which 
have from the earliest time distinguished the Scotch, were his; while the 
warm heart, free and open hand and ready springing tear of sensibility 
told in language plainer than words that the blood of Erin flowed fresh 
in his veins." 

When five years old, his parents removed to Kentucky and settled near 
the present City of Danville, then an almost unbroken wilderness. "He 
volunteered in the service of the army in 1792, in a corps of men who were 
organized to protect the transportation of provisions to the forts north 
of the Ohio River. Here he saw much service. When he returned home, 
he took up the study of law, became United States Attorney for the State 
of Kentucky, and in 1801 went to Washington, the first Western lawyer who 
had ever appeared in tlae Supreme Court of the United States." His speech 
in a celebrated case which he argued there placed him at once in the fore- 
most rank of his profession. It was he who prosecuted Aaron Burr for 

In 1811, he joined the army of General Harrison in his campaigns 
against the Indians on the Wabash, and was fatally wounded in the cele- 
brated battle of Tippecanoe on July 11, 1811. 

He is described as a magnificent specimen of Celtic manhood, of a 
remarkably commanding and impressive personal appearance. "As an 
orator," says Collins, "he had few equals and no superiors. The Judges 
of his time declared he was the most impressive speaker they ever heard." 


■-. I 

His death occasioned a great shook in the public mind throughout the State. 
Among the early settlers of the County which took his name are 
mentioned Eileys, McFarlands and Devereauxs, some of whose descendants 
were later members of the Kentucky Legislature. 

Pioneers of Lexington. 

The first known white visitor to what is now Fayette County was John 
Finley, who came down the Ohio dn 1773. In the same year, with some 
members of the McAfee party, Finley surveyed land in this county in the 
neighborhood of Frankfort. William BIcConnell explored the county in 
1774, and in the following year "Patrick Jordan, Garrett Jordan and others 
met at Drennon's Lick in Henry County, and came to Elkhorn, where John 
Lee and Hugh Shannon joined them, thence up Elkhorn to the Forks to or 
near the place where Lexington now stands." These men headed an ex- 
tensive exploring and surveying expedition all through that section of 

Several other Irish names are mentioned in the early history of this 
county. The Jordans and McConnells, we are told, were "particulaTly active 
in making improvements, clearing out brushwood and laying claims." 
William Garrett, a surveyor, passed through there in 1775. 

Lexington's first schoolmaster was John McKinney, "a man of refine- 
ment and learning," who established there in 1780. Among its "first 
settlers" are mentioned MoGees, Collinses, McCallas, Barrys, Cartys, 
Lowrys, Pattersons, McCrackens, Hogans, McBrides, Morrisons, Shannons, 
Brians, McConnells and Mastersons. And among "the first lotholders of 
Lexington when the plan of the town was adopted and the lots disposed 
of," as quoted by Collins, we find such names as -McDermid, McGinty, 
McDonald, Kelly, Hayden, McMullins and Morrow. 

The first cabin ever built on the site of the future city was occupied 
in April, 1776, by William MoConnell. "The building of McConnell's fort," 
to quote from an early description of Lexington, "sounded the death 
knell of the redmens' doom, although four years elapsed before a settlement 
could be made. In March, 1779, Colonel Robert Patterson set out from 
Harrodsburg at the head of 25 men and erected a blockhouse where Lexing- 
ton now is. On the very spot where the blockhouse stood, a hallowed spot 
in Lexington's infancy, John Carty erected a, fine house. John Morrison 
was the first person within the walls of the fort." 

The John Carty here referred to is mentioned as "one of the most 
respected citizens of Lexington." He was born in New Jersey in 1764, 
emigrated to Lexington shortly after the close of the war and fought 
against the Indians at the battle of Fallen Timber under General Anthony 
Wayne. His son, John Carty, who was born in Lexington in 1806 is 
described as "the most successful (Kentucky) merchant of his time, a man 
of remarkable judgment and sagacity, generous and popular." 


Irish Pioneers in Kentucky. 

Judges, Legislators and Other Leading Citizens Descended 

From Some of the Early Irish Settlers of 

the Blue Grass State. 

Bryan's Station, about five miles from Lexington, was established by 
four brothers named Bryan from North Carolina, who settled there in 
1779. Their father's name was Morgan Brian or O'Brian, who is supposed 
to have been the son of an Irishman, but all his descendants spelled the 
name "Bryan." 

A similar transformation in name took place in the case of the ancestors 
of William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska, who settled in this country. 

The Colonial Eecords of North Carolina say that his original ancestor, 
William Brian, came to America from Ireland and first settled in Isle of 
Wight County, Va. He married Alice Needham. The date of his coming 
is not given, but that it was early in the Colonial period is seen from the 
fact that his son, Needham Bryan, was born on Feibruary 23, 1690. About 
1722 William Brian, with two of his sons, Needham and John, went to 
North Carolina and settled in Pasquotank County. 

William Jennings Bryan is directly descended from another son of the 
Irish immigrant, William, who remained in Virginia. Needham Bryan 
settled at Snowfield, Bertie County, N. C. He married three times and had 
a family by each wife. The genealogy of the Bryans is, therefore, quite 
complicated. It is given in full in the North Carolina Genealogical and 
Historical Register for October, 1900. 

The descendants of the Irish pioneer seem to be scattered all over 
the South. They married into some very prominent Southern families, 
and the names of the several of them appear on the rosters of the army of 
the Revolution. 

Morgan Brian, whose sons established Bryan's Station in Kentucky, 
may have been of the same family as the Bryans of Bertie and Pasquotank 
Counties. What a pity that they should have changed the princely 
patronymic of their Irish forefathers! 

Beyans and Hogans. 

"Bryan's Station was a frontier post," says Collins, "and, consequently, 
was much harassed by the Indians and was greatly exposed to the hostility 


of the savages. The redmen were constantly lurking in the neighborhood, 
waylaying the paths, stealing horses and butchering cattle. At length it 
became necessary to hunt in large parties so as to be able to repel the 
attacks which were dally becoming more bold and frequent." 

"On May 20, 1779, two parties set out, one in command of William 
Bryan and the other under James Hogan. Bryan was killed, and Hogan's 
party, after being pursued by a band of Indians, returned to the encamp- 
ment which, in the meantime, another band of redskins had attacked." 
Hogan and his men soon put them to flight. On August 14, 1782, Bryan's 
Station was the scene of another fierce attack by 600 Indians, under the 
leadership of a notorious white man named Simon Girty, who is said to 
have been the son of an Irishman. The Indians were repulsed, one of the 
leaders in the defence having been Captain James JIcBride. Four days after 
was fought the famous battle of Blue Lick, in which, says the historians, 
"McBride was long remembered for his bravery." 

Another conspicuous figure in frontier life was John ilasterson, "who 
risked many a danger to render comfort to those he loved within the fort." 
Others who were prominent in assisting in the defense of Bryan's Station 
were the JlcConnells, "who took part in many thrilling adventures." 

A Distinguished Ibish-Ameeican. 

According to Collins, Colonel James Morrison, "One of the most 
wealthy and influential citizens of Lexington," was born in Cumberland 
County, Pa., in 1755. "He was the son of a poor Irish immigrant, and his 
native strength of mind gradually elevated him above his humble origin. 
He served six years in the Revolutionary army and distinguished himself 
in one of Morgan's select corps of riflemen." 

After the war he went into business at Pittsburg and became Sheriff 
of the County. In 1792 he removed to Lexington, where he was succes- 
sively Land Commissioner, ?Iember of the Legisilature, Supervisor of the 
Revenue, and Quartermaster-General of the army in the war of 1812. 

He was a bank president and chairman of the Board of Trustees of 
Transylvania University. He is described as "a man of commanding ap- 
pearance, a typical Celt, stern but courteous, of great decision of character, 
native talent, wide experience and considerable reading. He acquired 
immense wealth, which he disbursed with elegant hospitality and the 
promotion of letters, the type of man who made Kentucky famous." 

And this leading citizen was "the son of a poor Irish immigrant." 

William T. Barry, who was born in Virginia on February 5, 1783, was 
a citizen of Lexington, to where he removed in early life. There is no 
reference made to his parents, but that he was descended from one of .Vir- 
ginia's Irish settlers there is no room for doubt. 

Collins says of him: "Among the many distinguished men who re- 
flected honor upon the West, William T. Barry ranks high for great ability 
and lofty virtues. No man has figured so largely in the' well-contested 
field of Western politics, or ever left it with fewer enemies or a larger 
number of admiring and devoted friends.'' 


Member of Jackson's Cabinet. 

He continued to reside in Lexington, and between 1800 and 1805 was 
one of the foremost lawyers in Kentucky. He removed to Washington in 
1829 to form a part of President Jackson's Cabinet, and in 1835 was ap- 
pointed Jilinister to Spain. "During the war of 1812, when Governor 
Shelby led his countrymen to take vengeance on England and her savage 
allies for the massacre of the River Baisin and Fort Meigs, Barry had the 
post of one of his aides. He served as Major of Volunteers all through a 
severe and glorious campaign, which terminated in the capture of the 
British army, the death of Tecumseh, and the conquest of a large portion 
of Upper Canada." There is a monument erected to Barry's honor in the 
public square of Lexington. 

In grouping the great lawyers of Kentucky, Collins puts in the front 
rank Barry, Eowan, Haggin and Bledsoe — one Indian and three Irish 
names, and all four called "Anglo-Saxons" by some of the historians of 
the Blue Grass State. 

Dr. Charles Caldwell, "distinguished as a medical professor and as a 
vigorous and voluminous writer," was one of the early physicians of Lex- 
ington. Collins says he was the son of an Irish officer who had emigrated 
to Caswell County, N. C, where Charles was born in 1772. 

"At the age of 14, he was a fine classical scholar and opened and 
taught in succession two grammar schools until he was 17." He graduated 
at the leading medical school of Philadelphia, and was U. S. Surgeon in 
the famous "Whiskey Insurrection" in Western Pennsylvania. 

The Captain James McBride before mentioned, of Revolutionary and 
Indian war fame, erected a grist mill about 1785 on South Elkhorn Creek, 
the first in that section. In 1789 McBride was killed while surveying on 
the waters of Licking River, twenty miles from Lexington. 

Irish Pkominent in Fleming County. 

Fleming County was named in honor of Colonel John Fleming, who 
removed from Virginia to Kentucky in 1787. In 1790, he settled Fleming's 
Station, where he lived till his death in 1794. He was in several Indian 
fights. One of his neighbors was William Keenan, who was a prominent 
man in the county. He fought under General St. Clair and "never entirely 
recovered from the terrible exertions of St. Clair's campaign of 1791." 

In the Senate from Fleming County were Michael Cassidy, from 1800 
to 1806; William P. Fleming in 1819, William B. O'Bannion in 1819, and 
from 1824 to 1827; and later, John S. Cavan. 

In the House of Representatives from Fleming County were William 
Keenan in 1799, John Pinley in 1800, William G. Lowry from 1805 to 
1813 Michael Cassidy in 1798 and in 1808 and from 1817 to 1822; Wil- 
liamB. O'Bannion from 1818 to 1822; Edward H. Powers in 1827, John A. 
Cavan in 1847, and Edward F. Dulin in 1850, all descendants of Irish 
settlers in that vicinity, with the exception of Cassidy, who was born in 


When we bear in mind that some of these men went to the Legislature 
at a time when the future policy of the yet infant Commonwealth had to be 
formed, when there was no beaten road, when new questions of finance had 
to be decided, and the relations of the State to her sisters and to the gen- 
eral Government had to be determined, they must needs have been possessed 
of the highest qualities of statesmanship, from which fact we can readily 
form an idea of the sterling worth of these descendants of the "Exiles from 
Erin," and of their usefulness to the then infant State of Kentucky." 


Footsteps of the Gael in Kentucky. 

Many Irish Pioneers Among Those Who First Penetrated 

the Wilderness and Built the Forts and 

Highways— The Kennedys. 

William Kennedy headed an exploring party that passed through 
Lewis CJounty in 1773. James Gilmore and a party passed through there 
in 1775. In the following year Colonel James Fleming, William McClary 
and two others descended the Ohio River and made improvements in this 
region. Captain Michael Cassidy is also mentioned as interested in lands 
in this county in 1780, as well as Henry Higgins, Samuel Moore and 
Andrew, Francis and William MoConnell. 

Among the Indian fighters who are mentioned in the history of Lincoln 
County were three young men named Davis, CaflFree and Robert MoOlure. 
Robert's brother, Captain William MoClure, who lived at Stanford, was 
one of G-eneral Logan's trusted officers in his Indian campaign. 

The first court ever held in Kentucky was for Lincoln County, and 
was organized at Harrodsburg on January 16, 1781. A commission from 
the Governor of Virginia was produced which "appointed thirteen gentle- 
men Justices of the Peace to hold the County Court, and Commissioners 
of any Court of Oyer and Terminer for the trial of slaves." Among the 
thirteen Justices were Benjamin and John Logan, John Cowan, John 
Kennedy, Hugh McGarry, William Craig, William McBride and William 

"Butler's History of Kentucky" says that "John Reed, an Irishman, who 
emigrated to Virginia about the middle of the eighteenth century, was 
one of the pioneers of Lincoln County, where he built a fort in 1779." 
"There are," says Butler, "Many men in the State of distinguished talents, 
who trace their ancestry to this John Reed." His son, Thomas B. Reed, 
was United 'States Senator from Mississippi. Among the first regimental 
officers appointed to the patriot army from Lincoln County were John 
Logan, Lieutenant Colonel, in January, 1781, and Hugh McGarry, Major, 
in the following July. 

One of the representatives from Madison County in the Kentucky 
Senate in 1792 was Thomas Kennedy, and in the Lower House in later 
years were Representatives William McClannahan, Joseph Collins and B. 
C. Moran, descendants of Irish settlers in that locality. Among the first 
explorers who are known to have set foot in Madison County were James 


Mooney and Joseph Holden, who passed through there in 1773 with Daniel 
Boone. Its second known white visitors were some of the McAfee party 
in the summer of 1773. (From MSS, of the General and Natural History 
of Kentucky, by General K. B. McAfee, 1806.) 

The KejN^nedy Family. 

The story of the Kennedy family in early Kentucky history is a 
remarkaible one. They are found at Harrodsburg in 1774, when the first 
permanent white settlement was established in that vicinity. They were 
the leaders- of the "strenuous life" in Central Kentucky, and many incidents 
are related indicating that they were ever foremost in resisting the attacks 
of the Indians on the scattered settlements established by the white man. 
They were with Logan, and Clark and Wayne in the cruel border warfare 
that raged for many years during and after the Revolutionary period. 
There was hardly a battle or skirmish fought in Kentucky in which a 
Kennedy did not take some active part. 

According to the published 'Narrative of Felix Walker, one of the 
companions of Boone, the first road, or "trace," as it was then called, built 
through Madison County wag laid out by John Kennedy in the year 1775. 
It was "cut from the Long Island on the Holston River to Boonesbourough, 
on the Kentucky River." The building of this road, according to Walker's 
Narrative, "revealed to the explorers the unbounded beauties and richness 
of Kentucky, so that a new sky and strange earth seemed to be presented 
to their view." The news was spread around by travelers, and very soon 
settlers were attracted from the neighboring colonies, who penetrated 
through the central portion of Kentucky, bringing their families in cara- 

It is incidents like this that illustrate the worth of the hardy Irish 
settlers and their sons, who, in the early days of the great Southwest, 
pushed through the wilderness with a determination that soon conquered 
Nature in its wildest, primeval state. In the building of the roads, the 
clearing of the forests, the bridging of the streams; in the establishment 
of the first settlements and the erection of forts and stations for pro- 
tection of the settlements against the attacks of the prowling savages, men 
bearing Irish names are mentioned with the other pioneers in almost 
every historical record of Kentucky. 

We have endeavored to trace the nationality of John Kennedy, the first 
road builder of Central Kentucky, but are unable to find anything on record 
to indicate the place of his nativity. He was one of four sons of Thomas 
Kennedy, and it is probable that he was a native of either Kentucky or 

Kidnapped Fkom Ieeland. 

A Thomas Kennedy, who was the son of James Kennedy— mentioned 
in one of our previous papers as having been kidnapped from Ireland, 
when a boy of seven and sold in Maryland for a term of years— and who 
was a very prominent settler of Bourbon County, may possibly have been 
the father of the pioneer roadbuilder. Bourbon and Madison are separated 


only by Clark County. John Kennedy built a fort in Bourbon County, at 
a place now known as Kennedy's Station, situate about midway between the 
towns of Glenkenny and Doneraile. 

Thomas Kennedy's four sons were a noteworthy set of pioneer brothers, 
One of them, "Dave" Kennedy, was known as a "bully." Collins says he 
was "a man of remarkable physical development, whom few would have 
the hardihood to encounter." He lived at a small place called Milford, in 
Madison County, where the courthouse was. In 1789, when the court was 
ordered to be removed to Richmond, a bitter feeling of opposition was 
manifested by the people. "They gathered together to the number of 300, 
headed by Thomas Kennedy and his four sons, ' "Dave" ' Kennedy offered 
to whip anybody who was in favor of the removal. At last, William 
Kerley was found, who consented to fight him in the stray pen if nobody 
interfered." The fight was a memorable one in that section, and, al- 
though "Dave" Kennedy, the local pride of Milford, exerted all his prowess, 
he was unable to conquer his adversary from Richmond, and after the 
contest was declared "a draw" a compromise was arranged about the re- 
moval of the courthouse, and the bully's brother, Joseph Kennedy, was 
appointed the first Sheriff of the county. 

A Celebbated Irish-American Jurist. 

One of the neighboring counties to Madison was Boyle, called after 
Chief Justice John Boyle, and it is curious to observe, in examining the 
records, that the name of this celebrated Irish-American lawyer is mis- 
pelled "Bowles,'' and was mispronounced in that way for many years 
throughout Kentucky. 

John Boyle is noted as having been the first to plant peaches in Madison 
County, in October, 1775. The first school in Boonesborough was taught 
by Joseph Doniphan in 1779, when 22 years old. He was the grandfather 
of Chancellor and Joseph Doniphan, of Augusta, Ky., and father of General 
Alexander Doniphan, of St. Louis. He went to Madison County in 1778 
from Virginia, and returned in 1780. He was a Justice of the Peace in 
Stafford County, Virginia, in 1787, and some records now in possession 
of his descendants (in Indianapolis) show that George Washington was 
several times a litigant before him, suing for small sums. We have not 
the slightest doubt but that "Doniphan" is a corruption of the Irish name, 

Colonel William Irvine and his brother. Captain Christopher Irvine, 
established themselves in Madison County in 1778 or 1779, near where 
Richmond now is. In 1876, Christopher raised a company and joined an 
expedition against the Indians under General Logan, and was killed. Col- 
onel William Irvine fought at the battle of Little Mountain in 1782, 
where he was severely wounded. He is referred 'to as "a man of estimable 
character and high standing." He was Clerk of the County Courts and 
served in the Virginia Legislature before Kentucky was formed into a 
State. The Irvines are supposed to have been of Irish descent. General 
William Irvine, of the Revolution, as is known to our readers, was a native 
of County Ferma,nagh. 


The County Down Immigrants. 

Magoffin County was named in honor of Beriah Magoffin, who became 
Governor of Kentucky. He was born at Harrodsburg in 1815, on a farm 
inherited from his father, who came from County Down. His mother 
was a granddaughter of Samuel McAfee. 

William McElroy, "one of the first settlers of Marion County," was 
also the son of an immigrant from County Down. He came to Kentucky 
in 17S8 in company with his father and two uncles and their families — 
fifty-four persons in all. They settled in the neighborhood of Lebanon. 

The early records of Mason County indicate the presence of a number 
of its pioneers who bore Irish names. ' Several companies of adventurers 
and explorers visited what is now Mason County in 1773, among them the 
jMcAfee brothers, and the company of Captain Thomas Bullitt's surveyors 
and assistants, in which were John Fitzpatrick, Joseph Drennon and John 
Doran. The papers left by the McAfee brothers show that these companies 
came down the Ohio in June, 1773, and camped for several days at the 
place where the City of Maysville now stands. In July following John 
Finley passed through the eastern part of the county with General William 
Thompson's party from Pennsylvania. This course of surveys was quite 
extensive, and embraced the richest lands in that section. 

In 1774 and 1775 several companies of "Improvers" came to Mason 
County selecting and surveying the rich cane lands — among whom are 
mentioned the McConnell brothers, MoCellands, Mastersons, several of the 
Kennedys, James Gilmore and Fitzpatrick and Doran. In June, 1775, we 
find mention of John Lafferty and Hugh Shannon, who were members of 
the company which in that month gave the name of Lexington to the spot 
where that beautiful city now stands. In 1776, Lafferty and Shannon 
were joined by Bartholomew Fitzgerald, who selected a site and built a 
mill dam, which even to this day is known as Fitzgerald's. Mill. 

Numbers of other pioneers are mentioned in the early history of this 
county, bearing Irish names, such as Patrick Jordan, James Kelly, William 
Kelly, John Fitzgerald, John McGrew, Thomas White, William McClary, 
John Fleming, John Lyons, William Graden, and Henry Boyle. These 
were among the very first improvers and surveyors that passed through 
the wilderness of this section of Kentucky, and some of whom later re- 
turned and settled down permanently in the rich lands which they had 
laid out. There certainly is no dearth of Irish names among the pioneers 
of Kentucky. 


Irish Settlers in Kentucky. 

Amusing Story of Michael Cassidy Outwitting the Indian 

Warriors — Kean O'Hara, Father of the Famous 

Kentucky Poet, Was a United Irishman. 

The early emigrants to Kentucky had many difficulties and dangers to 
surmoimt before effecting a permanent settlement. They carried their 
lives in their hands. The Indians gave them no rest night or day. "From 
the date of their first permanent settlement in 1773," says the historian, 
"to that of Wayne's decisive victory and the subsequent treaty of Greene- 
ville in 1795, a period of over 20 years, Kentucky was a continual battle- 
ground between the whites and the Indians, the latter ceaselessly endeavor- 
ingl to break up the Colonies, and the former struggling to maintain 
their position." 

The early settlements were generally undertaken by men with families, 
voluntarily formed into small emigrating companies and usually without 
the authority of or aid from the Government. When they arrived at the 
place of their destination, their first work was to select a suitable site, 
where they built cabins for the accommodation of their families. These 
cabins were so arranged as to form a kind of fort for their protection and 
defence. These places were called "stations" and generally received their 
names from the leader of the party 

Thus we find, among others, such stations as Rice's, Kenny's, Mc- 
Guire's, McCormack's, Mullins', Kennedy's, Sullivan's, Daniel Sullivan's, 
McGarry's McGee's McKinley's, McConnell's Collins', JIasterson's, Gil- 
more's, McFadden's, Casey's, Kelly's, Finn's, Hynes', Cox's, Feagan's, 
Bryan's, Dougherty's, Drennon's, Fleming's, Higgins'y Lyneh's, Oassidy'a 
Station, and so on, indicating that many Irishmen were among the 
leading soldiers and settlers of early Kentucky. 

Michael Cassidy, Indian Fightee. 

Michael Cassidy, who established Cassddy's Station, was a noted set- 
tler and Indian fighter of Fleming County. After the war, he educated 
and fitted himself to take a prominent place in the Legislative halls of his 
adopted State. We shall quote what Collins' "History of Kentucky" says 
of this noted Irishman. 

"Michael Cassidy was a native of Ireland, whence he emigrated to the 
Colonies in his youth. At the breaking out of the war, he enlisted and 


served for several years in the ranks of the patriot army. After leav- 
ing the army he went to Kentucky and attached himself to Strode's Sta- 
tion, in what is now Clark County. Thence he removed to Fleming 
County and settled at Oassidy's Station. 

"He was remarkably small in stature, and there are many amusing 
stories told of his contests with Indians, who looked upon him as a boy. 
On one occasion while encamped in the woods with two other friends named 
Bennett and Spohr, three Indians attacked their camp and killed Bennett 
and Spohr at the first fire. Cassidy sprung to his feet, but was soon over- 
powered and made prisoner. The Indians, supposing him to be a boy, and 
proposing to relieve the tedium of the night, selected the smallest of their 
number to carve him up with a large butcher knife for their diversion. 
Cassidy, whose fiery spirit little predisposed him to suffer an unresisting 
martydom, grappled with his antagonist and flung him several times with 
great violence to the earth, greatly to the amusement of the other Indians, 
who laughed immoderately at their companion's defeat by one seemingly 
so disproportioned in strength. 

The two Indians, finding that it was growing a serious matter, came 
to the rescue of their companion, and 'with several strokes of their war 
clubs felled Cassidy to the ground. Fortunately, Cassidy fell with his 
hand upon the knife which his competitor had let fall, and arising, 
brandished it with such fierceness that the Indians fell back, when he 
stepping to one side, darted rapidly into the woods. The darkness of the 
night enabled him to elude his pursuers, until he came to a deep 
pool of water overhung by a large sycamore. Under the roots of this tree, 
up to his neck in the water, he remained concealed until the Indiana, 
fiashing their torches around him in every direction, gave up In despair. He 
carried to his grave the marks of the Indian clubs to testify with what 
good will they were given. 

Ieish Wit Succeeds. 

"Upon another occasion, while hunting on Cassidy's Creek, in what is 
now Nicholas County, he very unexpectedly found himself in close proxim- 
itj' to a powerful Indian in a place quite free from timber. Each ob- 
served the other about the same time and both leveled their guns. But 
Cassidy, to his consternation, found that his pocket handkerchief was 
tied around the lock of his gun so as to prevent its being cocked, and 
he feared to untie it, lest the Indian, perceiving it, should fire. They re- 
mained pointing their guns at each other in, this manner for some time. 
The Indian not firing, Cassidy suspected that something was the matter 
with his gun also and began to take off his handkerchief, when the Indian 
fled to a tree. Cassidy followed at full speed, and taking a circuit so as 
to bring the Indian in view, flred and wounded him in the shoulder. 
Drawing his knife, he made toward the wounded Indian, in whose gun 
he now perceived the ramrod. When Cassidy approached the Indian (lying 
on the ground) extended his hand, crying 'brother.' Cassidy told him he 
was 'a damned mulatto hypocrite, and he shouldn't claim kin with him. 
Saint Patrick! but he would pummel him well!" After a desperate con- 


flict with the Indian, who, though deprived of the use of his right arm, 
proved no contemptible foe, and whose nakedness afforded no tangible hold, 
Cassidy succeeding in despatching him. 

"Cassidy was in upwards of 30 Indian iights, and so many were his 
hair-'breadth escapes that he was commonly said to have a charmed life. 
He served in the Legislature repeatedly, lived respected and died regretted 
at his station in the year 1829." 

In Franklin County the first surveys were made by Hancock Taylor, 
whose party consisted of himself, ilatthew Bracken and Joseph Drennon. 
Bracken County and Drennon Creek in Henry County were named after 
these pioneers. John Fitzpatrick and John Doran made two surveys in 
1774 of all the land now embraced in the Capital City of Frankfort. These 
surveys were made for Eoibert ilcAfee. William Dougherty, a laborer, was 
"tried and convicted for robbery" in this county in 1799, and "sentenced to 
be hung" on April 2 of that year, but the verdict was set aside and 
Dougherty was released. 

Collins says the Frankfort surveys were abandoned by the ilcAfees for 
others in Mercer County. Each of the brothers, John, George and Robert 
McAfee, kept a journal which are still preserved at Providence Church. 
The leading facts of their journeyings were preserved therein and in several 
court and sundry depositions. by members of the company. 

Many Ibish-Named Places. 

In this vicinity there are several old places called by Irish names, 
such as Doylesville, Xolin, Riley, Brannon, McAfee, Conway, O'Bannon, 
Powers, Keene, Connersville, Duganville, Nevins, Murphy, McCormiek, 
Fagan, Irvine, Donnelly, McCracken, Keavy, Joyce, Ward, Gauley, Weleh- 
burg, Boyle, Dunnville, McKee, McKinney, Curry, Flanagan, Blake, Casey 
Creek, Sexton's Creek, Moore's Creek, Coffey, Mayo, Tyrone, Waterford and 
Doneraile. It would be well to know how these places came by their 
names, and perhaps, in later papers, we may be able to narrate some inter- 
esting details concerning their origin, for the information of our readers. 

Among the women of Franklin County mentioned by Collins was Ann 
McGinty, who is referred to as "a woman of great energy and self-reliance, 
who brought the first spinning wheel to Kentucky and made the first linen 
in that section of the country from lint of nettles and bufl'alo wool." She 
is mentioned by Collins as "very ingenious." The land and court records 
of Franklin County indicate that she and her husband, James McGinty, 
were possessed of lands there. She died in 1815. Her tomb can be 
seen in the Old Fort Cemetery near Harrodsburg. She lived for a time in 
the Old Fort, called "Kentucky's first settlement." Her nationality is not 
given, but that she may have been an Irishwoman may be judged from her 
knowledge of the primitive operation of fabricating such simple materials 
as nettles and the wool of the buffalo into linen suitable for ordinary use. 

William Dunn and family lived in Franklin County in 1791 in a set- 
tlement on South Elkhorn Creek. He is on record as taking part against 
an Indian invasion at that place in 1792. 


Irish Pio>-eees in Gallatin and Grant Counties. 

Among the "early settlers of Gallatin County" are mentioned Henry 
Dougherty, Riehard Masterson, Martin Hawkins and Pereival or Pierce 
Butler, the last of whom was the son of Thomas Butler of Kilkenny. A 
descendant of the first Dougherty, Robert S. Dougherty, was a Kepresenta- 
tive from Gallatin County from 1827 to 1829, a Senator in 1830 and 
again a. Representative in 1835. Other Representatives in the Legis ature 
from this county were William 0. Butler in 1817, Thomas S. Butler in 
1826, and E. Hogan in 1869, all of whom were descended from early 
settlers in the vicinity. 

In the official records of Grant County we find mention of the McGills, 
McCanns, Goughs, and particularly of the O'Hara family. Major James 
O'Hara and Kean O'Hara, with their father and one other brother, came 
from Ireland to Maryland in the year 1798. Collins, the eminent historian 
of Kentucky, refers to Kean O'Hara as "one of the most distinguished of 
Kentucky educators, having taught school in that State for more than 
50 years." He relinquished teaching for the law, and settled in practice 
at Williamstown, where "he attained an enviable position as a professional 
lawyer and able advocate." He was the father of James O'Hara, Judge 
of the Covington Judicial District, and of Theodore O'Hara, the dis- 
tinguished poet, journalist and soldier, the author of the immortal com- 
position, "The Bivouac of the Dead." 

Kean O'Hara, or Kane O'Hara, as he is more frequently referred to 
in the Kentucky records, was a United Irishman. What part he took in 
the Rebellion has never been recorded, but, after the arrest of Lord Edward 
Fitzgerald, he was obliged to fly the country and seek asylum in America. 
He married into one of the most distinguished families in Maryland, his 
wife having been descended from one of the earliest settlers of that Colony 
who had come over with Lord Baltimore. Soon after his marriage he 
settled in Danville, Ky., from where he later removed to Woodford County, 
and thence to Frankfort. 

O'haba the Geeatest Kentucky Poet. 

Theodore O'Hara, his son, was the greatest poet Kentucky has ever 
produced. When a very young man he entered the law office of the famous 
John C. Breckinridge, who afterwards became Vice-President of the United 
States, and on whose staff O'Hara in later years served through the Civil 
War. About 1845 he entered the employ of the Government, and during 
the Mexican War served as an officer in the Second U. S. Cavalry. 

We take the following from an article on O'Hara, which appeared in 
a recent issue of the Kansas City Star: 

"The occasion for writing 'The Bivouac of the Dead' was closely con- 
nected with the events of O'Hara's own life. The Kentucky troops buried 
their dead on the field of Buena Vista, but a few months later the State 
brought home the ashes of the principal officers to rest in the cemetery at 
■ the capital. They were accorded the most magnificent funeral ever 
witnessed in Kentucky. A little later the State erected a handsome 


monument, occupying a central position in the cemetery, in honor of all 
Kentuckians who had fallen while battling for their country. It was at 
the dedication of this monument that Theodore O'Hara first read his famous 
poem. He seemed to have had in mind, however, only Colonels McKee and 
Clay and the other officers who fell at Buena Vista, as all of his references 
are to that engagement. 

"The poem itself is an almost flawless work of poetic genius and has 
been pronounced by competent critics to be perhaps the most perfect of 
its kind in the English language. The first verse is by far the most widely 
known and quoted, but among all the similes with which the poem is en- 
riched surely none is more beautiful than that in which Kentucky is likened 
to a Spartan mother who, as she handed him his shield on his departure 
for war, would say: 'Come back with this or upon it.' And thus the poet 
says of Kentucky: 

"She claims from war its richest spoils — 

The ashes of her brave." 
"That the poem, as has been said, is one which strikes a note of uni- 
versal human sympathy is best evidenced by the wide use which has been 
made of it outside of Kentucky. The national Government has used it 
extensively in the cemeteries at Gettysburg, Arlington and Vieksburg, the 
entire poem being reproduced on separate blocks of stone in the latter 
instance. It is also significant that 'The Bivouac of the Dead' should have 
been inscribed on the monument erected by the British Government in 
honor of those soldiers who died in the Crimea. 

"It is even now thrilling to think of that scene in the cemetery at 
Frankfort that summer's day sixty years ago. The State's great dead lay 
around him under the primeval forest trees which crown a beautiful bluflf 
of the Kentucky River. In a close circle around the newly-erected 
monument lay O'Hara's own comrades of the Mexican War. The monument 
itself was impressive and bore the names of battles and of the Kentuckians 
who had engaged in them. Some had fought the Indians at Point Pleasant, 
at Boonesborough and in the disastrous battles of 'Blue Licks' and 'Estill's 
Defeat.' They had participated alike in the defeats of Harmar and St. 
Clair and the brilliant victory of 'Mad Anthony' Wayne at Fallen Timbers. 
Others had fought the British at King's Mountain during the Revolution, 
where Ferguson, Cornwallis's best lieutenant, was defeated and killed, and at 
New Orleans in the War of 1812. Last of all came the names of those 
who had fallen at Monterey and Buena Vista. Deeply moved by the events 
which had just transpired, who can think what a flood of emotion -nust 
have flowed through the mind of Theodore O'Hara as for the first time the 
expectant multitude heard the impressive measure of that beautiful verse: 
"The muffled drum's sad roll has beat 

The soldier's last tattoo; 
No more "on life's parade shall meet 

That brave and fallen few. 
On fame's eternal camping ground 

Their silent tents are spread. 
And glory guards with solemn round 

The bivouac of the dead." 


Irish Pioneers in Kentucky. 

Exiles From Erin Were Among the First Surveyors and 

Improvers— Simon Kenton, Called One of the 

Fathers of the West, Was the Son 

of an Irish Emigrant. 

One of the early surveyors of Jefferson County was Peter Casey, who, 
according to Collins, settled there in 1775. In this vicinity, at various 
times, are mentioned descendants of Irish settlers who assisted in making 
the laws of their native State. Among them we find such names as jMoore, 
Denny, Hughes, Butler, ilelone, Harney, Logan, Bryan,' Irvine, Downing, 
Cassilly, Kearney and Campion. In the first exploring party that ever 
passed through this region were John Fitzpatrick and John Doran (1773), 
and Matthew Bracken and Joseph Drennon of the McAfee party (1774). 

"The first encampment of regular settlers," as Collins describes them, 
"comprising, among a few others, the families of Captain James Patton, 
John Tuel (Toole), and John McManus, was in 1778 on Corn Island op- 
posite the present City of Louisville, but since all washed away. The 
island was so named because these settlers first planted and raised corn on 
it in that year, the first ever raised within a. radius of 25 miles around." 

The names of some of the early stations of Jefferson County indicate 
the prominence of Irishmen in that region. Members of the Sullivan 
family erected several stations between 1779 and 1782, to which they gave 
their names. The original proprietor of the land where Louisville now 
stands was Dr. John Connolly, a native of Ireland. He was a surgeon in 
the royal forces. On December 16, 1773, Collins relates that Connolly 
received a patent for a grant of 2,000 acres in that part of Fincastle 
County, Va., now Jefferson County, Ky. In 1774, Connolly purchased 2,000 
acres adjoining his original patent. Colonel John Campbell, "an Irish 
gentleman,'' in honor of whom Campbell County was named, was Connolly's 
nearest neighbor. Connolly lost portion of his great estate in 1780 "on 
account of his activity in the royal cause." The first church erected in 
Louisville was in 1811. It was a Catholic Chapel, and was erected chiefly 
for the Irish settlers and their families. 

Simon Ke:{to?]-, an Ihish-Asierican. 

One of the most celebrated pioneers of the West was General Simon 
Kenton, after whom Kenton County is named. He was born of obscure 


parents in Faquier County, Va., on April 13, 1755. Collins and Lossing 
both say his father was an Irishman. 

"When a youth of 16," writes Collins, "he had an encounter with a 
rival for the affections of his sweetheart, and Kenton, thinking he had 
killed his rival, thought himself ruined beyond redemption. The wilderness 
of the West offered him a secure asylum and he plunged at once into the 
woods. After much suffering, he arrived- at Ise's Ford on Cheat Eiver ia 
April, 1771, where he gave his name as Simon Butler." 

Thus at the age of 16, this man who, in the hands of the Almighty, 
was so instrumental in redeeming the great West from the savages and 
opening the way for the stream of civilization which has since poured over 
its fertile plains, desolate in heart and burdened with a supposed crime, 
was thrown upon his own resources to struggle with the dangers and 
privations of the wilderness. 

In the Fall of 1771, he accompanied a party down the Ohio Eiver as 
far as the mouth of the Kentucky and landed at the identical place where 
James McBride, the premier expdorer of Kentucky, had embarked 17 years 
before. Here the party hunted and trapped with great success and lived 
a free and imrestrained life until the spring of 1774. The trouble with 
England was brewing, and the Indians, being excited against the Colonists, 
the settlements were attacked by the redmen, the white settlers suffering 
dreadful hardships. Several of them were lost in the woods, among them 
Fitzpatrick and Hendricks, whom Kenton rescued and brought to his station 
near Washington, Ky. 

All Western historians offer generous testimony to the valiant services 
rendered Kentucky and to the cause of the patriots by this celebrated 
Irish-Am«rican pioneer. "He battled with the Indians in a himdred en- 
counters," writes Collins, "and at the head of his brother pioneers ranged 
the pathless forest in freedom and safety." "He was a noble pioneer in 
the march of Western civilization," says Lossing; "became the companion 
of Boone, and with him and his co-laborers wrested Kentucky from the 

In 1778, he joined the forces of Greneral George Rogers Clark at the 
Falls of the Ohio, and after the surprise of Kaskaskia he returned to 
Boonesborough. Toward the close of that year he was captured by the 
Indians, and finally became a prison laborer in the hands of the British at 
Detroit. Aided by a trader's wife, he escaped in company with two fellow- 
prisoners, the renowned Captain Bulldtt and Lieutenant Coffee, and arrived 
at the Falls in July, 1779. He subsequently joined Clarke in his ex- 

Revisited His Father. 

In 1782, learning that he had not killed his rival in love, and that his 
old father still lived, he went to Virginia, and, after spending some time 
among the friends of his early youth, he returned to Kentucky, taking his 
father and family with him. On the way the old man died; the remainder 
of the family reached Kenton's settlement in safety. From that period, 
until Wayne's expedition in 1793, Kenton was much engaged in Indian 

Lossing in his "Field Book of the American Revolution," relates a 
pathetic story, showing how in the closing days of his checkered career, 
this celebrated pioneer was destined to feel "the bitter effects of wrong, 
ingratitude and neglect." 

On account of some legal matters concerning his lands in Kentucky, 
he was imprisoned for twelve months upon the very spot where he built 
his cabin in 1775. In 1802, beggared by lawsuits and losses, he became 
landless. Yet he never murmured at the ingratitude which pressed him 
down, and in 1813 the veteran joined the Kentucky troops under Shelby, 
and was in the battle of the Thames. In 1824, when 70 years old, he 
journeyed to Frankfort, in tattered garments and upon a miserable horse, 
to ask the Legislature of Kentucky to release the claims of the State upon 
some of his mountain lands. He was stared at by the boys, and shunned 
by the citizens, for none knew him. At length General Thomas^ Fletcher 
recognized him, gave him a new suit of clothes and entertained him 
kindly. When it was known that Simon Kenton was in town, scores flocked 
to see the old hero. He was taken to the Capitol and seated in the Speaker's 
chair. His lands were released, and afterwards Congress gave him a pension 
of 1240 per year. He died at the age of 81 years, in 1836, at his residence 
at the head of Mad Eiver, in Logan County, Ohio, in sight of the place, 
where, 58 years before, the Indians were about to put him to death. 

We wonder how many Kentuckians of the present generation know 
that Simon Kenton, one of the most celebrated pioneers of their State, 
who is famed in song and story, the boast of Kentucky and the pride of 
the West; who had battled with the Indians in a hundred encounters and 
"wrested Kentucky from the savage," was the son of an obscure Irish im- 

Ieish Settlers in Covington. 

Many of the early settlers of Covington, in Kenton County, bore Irish 
names. The first known white man in that vicinity was James MoBride 
(1754). John Martin settled there with his family in 1795, near Huddle's 
station. He was born on the high seas in 1723 while his parents were on 
a voyage from Ireland. They first located at Beesontown (now Uniontawn), 
Pa. From there they went by water to Limestone (now Maysville), Ky., 
in 1791, with other families, guarded by a few soldiers. The Irish family 
estg,blished a settlement on the road between Cincinnati and Lexington 
in 1795. There are still a great many Martins in that section of Kentucky, 
who are noted for their large families, and who are descended from the 
Irish immigrants of 1723. 

A family named MuUins settled early in Kenton County, where they 
established a station, called by their name. Other old settlers were William 
Mackoy and his three sons, John, William and Robert; Robert Fleming, 
William Cummings, John Donovan, Thomas Kennedy and his three sons, 
Samuel, Joseph and Robert, and his three grandsons, and Robert Kyle and 
five sons. Patrick Leonard settled in Kenton County, some time after the 
Revolutionary War. He was the second husband of the famous "Captain" 
Molly Pitcher, the Irishwoman who immortalized herself at the battle of 


Monmouth on June 16, 1778. John Bulger, a noted Indian fighter under 
Logan, settled in the county about 1779. 

Most of the land now embraced in the City of Covington was known 
as Kennedy's F«rry previous to 1813. Thomas Kennedy had a large estate 
there, and up to 1829 his descendants operated the ferry. Thomas conducted 
the ferry on the Kentuclcy side and Francis Kennedy on the Ohio side. 
It was the principal crossing for travel from Lexington to the interior of 
Kentucky, and the Kennedys proved themselves extremely useful in trans- 
porting the soldiers of the Indian expeditions during the War of the 
Revolution and for many succeeding years. 

Covington was established by an Act of the Legislaiture, approved 
February 8, 1815, on 150 acres of Thomas Kennedy's farm, which had been 
purchased from him the previous year. One of its streets was named after 
him. He occupied the only stone house in Covington for many years. It 
is described as "an elegant stone residence with panelled rooms;" The 
first factory in Covington was erected by Charles McAllister and William 
Yorke. There is also mention of a family named Doniphan, who came over 
from Clermont County, 0., and who on one occasion sheltered General Simon 
Ken,ton while sick from his arduous campaigns against the Indians. 

In 1788, we find mention of William Connell, Samuel Mooney, Sylvester 
White and William McMillan among the pioneers of Kenton County. 
These, with several other settlers left Limestone on December 24, 1788, to 
form the settlement of Losanteville (the original name of Cincinnati). 

The FmsT White Child in Cincinnati. 

The first white child of Losanteville is said to have been John Cummins, 
who was born there on December 18, 1788. The first house ever built on 
the site of Losanteville was erected in July, 1780, for the purpose of 
sheltering the men of Captain Hugh McGarry's company, who were wounded 
in an attack by the Indians. McGarry's party had been detached from 
General George Eogers Clark's army, which had been marching along the 
Kentucky side of the Ohio. McGarry was detailed to reconnoitre the .posi- 
tion of the enemy on the Indiana side. Others who are mentioned among 
those who located early in the settlement at Losanteville were Francis 
Kennedy, with his wife and seven children, and families named McConnell 
and McHenry. 

The first settlement near Covington was on November 18, 1788, at 
Columbia, on the north side of the Ohio. The party passed through 
Kenton County and were mostly immigrants who had come from Browns- 
ville, Pa., via the Monongahela River. They were headed by Captain FHnn, 
and among the 40 colonists who pushed their fortunes with him were 
Flinn's father and two brothers; the premier schoolmasters of Ohio already 
mentioned, John Reilly and Francis Dunlevy; Joseph Cox, Daniel Griffin, 
Cornelius Hurley, John Manning, John MoCullough, Patrick and William 
Moore, John Reynolds, and John Ferris. These names are all taken from 
the "Journal of Judge William Goforth," one of the first Territorial 
Judges appointed by Washington. 


Less than a month after its first settlement, Captain Hugh Dunn, his 
wife, three brothers and one sister, came down the Ohio in their family 
boat, and after many adventures with the Indians joined the settlers at 
Columbia. Dunn established Dunn's Station at the mouth of the Great 
Miami in 1793. "A census taken after the arrival of this little company 
showed a total population of 56 men, women and children. These were all 
the white people then known to be in the present State of Ohio west of 
Marietta." (From a sketch of Judge Isaac Dunn, in the Lawrenceburg, 
Ind., Press, July, 1870.) 


Irish Footsteps in Kentucky. 

The Western Settlements Largely Undertaken by Irishmen- 
Notable Record of the Steele Family, Natives of 
Newtown-Limavady, Coimty Derry. 

In the histories of Graves, Grayson, Green, Greenup, Hardin and 
Harrison Counties, several representatives in the Legislature during the 
first quarter of the nineteenth century were descendants of Irish settlers, 
such as William M. Cargill, John and Jeremiah Cox, WiUiam L. Conklin, E. 
W. Brandon, James W. and Peter Barrett, B. G. Burke, John M. MeConnell, 
William Connor, Joseph D. Collins, Edward F. Dulin, Joseph Patton, 
William Conway, T. W. and James W. Hayes, J. B. Hayden, John H. and 
Thomas S. Geohegan, George L. McAfee, William K. Wall, Stephen B. 
Curran, William W. Cleary, H. A. Ward, Thomas J. Megibben, John Givins 
and J. C. and N. P. Coleman. 

One of the first settlers of Hardin County was Colonel Andrew Hynes, 
who located where Elizabetthtown now stands and who built a fort in 1780, 
which is said to have been one of the first three settlements which existed 
at that time between the Ohio and Green Rivers. Andrew Hynes was the 
founder of the town of Elizabethtown, which he named in honor of his 
wife's Christian name. 

Peter Kennedy is prominently mentioned in accounts of Indian war- 
fare in Hardin Coumty about this time. He "proved himself a hero in a 
conflict at the Ohio River near the mouth of Salt River." He lived to a 
very old age and "left a numerous and clever progeny." Other settlers 
in this coimty in 1793 were Isaac Hynes and one Nolan, after whom Nolan 
Creek was called. 

Ibish Pioneees of Haeeison Countt. 

Among "the visitors to and improvers of Harrison County," are 
mentioned John Haggin, Daniel Callahan, Patrick Callahan, Matthew 
Fenton, William Hoskins and William Shields. "These, with six or seven 
others," says Collins, "came down the Ohio in March, 1775, and up Licking 
River in canoes in search of lands to improve, and landed near where Fal- 
mouth now is." It was called Hinkson's Company, having been commanded 
by John Hinkson. Howe, in his "Historical Collections of Ohio," says tha* 
Hinkson was a native of Ireland, whence he had emigrated in early life. 
He settled in Kentucky and established a station near the junction of 


Hinkson and Stoner. Here he brought up a family. His son, Colonel 
Thomas Hinkson, fought under General Harmar in 1791 and with Wayne 
in 1792 against the Indians. He became a Judge and Member of the 
Legislature, also fought in the War of 1812. 

After some little time exploring Hardin County, Hinkson's company 
proceeded up Licking Elver to near the Lower Blue Licks, and "in the 
neighborhood between Paris and Cymthiana, they improved lands, made 
small clearings, built their cabins and named the streams and stations 
after some of the company. It was a flourishing settlement in 1776." 

About the same time, a body of 14 men, known as Miller's Compa~ny, 
traversed this region, where they joined Hinkson's party. In Miller's com- 
pany were "Paddy" Logan, William Flinn, William Nesbitt, Joseph 
Houston, William Steele, Alexander Pollock. William MoClintock and 
Richard Clark, some of whom were natives of Ireland. The two companies 
stationed themselves at Blue Licks, from where they sent out parties of 

The Ikish Vanguard. 

In the fall of 1775 Peter Higgins and Robert Shanklin passed through 
Harrison County surveying lands. Others who are mentioned "among the 
earliest settlers" of this county were William Kennedy, James McGraw, 
Thomas Moore, Robert Keen and John, James and Samuel McMillan, who 
came into the county and "made improvements" in 1776. Thomas Dunn is 
noted as having been the first to raise corn in this county (in 1776), and 
James Kenny, Thomas Kennedy and James Galloway were among those 
who made "improvements." 

In May, 1776, came John Lyons' company of ten men from Pennsyl-. 
vania, two of whom were the brothers James and William Kelly. They 
joined Hinkson's station and took up lands in the vicinity. These settlers, 
under command of Hinkson, ofi'ered a brave resistance in the Summer of 
1780 to a combined British and India,n force which had fiercely attacked the 
settlements between Lexington and Bryan's Station. "Higgins' block- 
house made a brave resistance," writes Collins. 

The Kelly brothers, James and William, are mentioned in Howe's 
"Historical Collections of Ohio" as "among the early settlers of Mason 
County, Ky." They were killed in a fight with the Indians on the Ohio 
River near the mouth of the Big Guyandotte, while defending the settle- 

. Major William K. Wall was one of the leading citizens of the county. 
His father, John Wall, emigrated to Kentucky in 1791. William was a 
lawyer and a, member of the State Legislature for many years. He fought 
in the War of 1812. 

Henderson County sent to the Legislature James MoMahon (1815), 
Daniel McBride (1827), and John E. McAllister (1843). John w' 
O'Bannon represented Henry County from 1834 to 1838; Hugh McCracken 
and S. P. MoFall, Hickman County in 1822 and 1832 respectively; Andrew 
Sisk from Hopkins County in 1829, and as Senator from 1832 to 1836. All 
of these were descendants of Irish pioneers in their respective localities. 


The Steeles Fbom Newtown-Limavady. 

One of the most noted families of Jefferson County is that of Steele, 
and one which has left its mark all over Kentucky and the adjacent States. 
According to the Registers of the Kentucky Historical Association, the 
pioneers of the family were Richard and Andrew Steele, who emigrated 
from Ireland in 1745 and landed on the eastern shore of Maryland. Both 
were born in Newtown-Limavady and were educated at the University of 
Dublin. They were the grandsons of Sir Richard Steele, who resided in 
the castle of Ballyedmund, near Rathdowney. 

Soon after his arrival in Maryland, Richard Steele received a grant of 
1,000 acres, which he located in the beautiful country near Mercersburg, 
Pa. There he raised a family of eight children, some of whom are mentioned 
as among the most prominent and useful of the early settlers of Pennsyl- 
vania, West Virginia and Kentucky. 

The boys received their earliest lessons in patriotism at their father's 
knee, and when old enough hurried to join the contingents which were 
forming in their neighborhood to aid the patriot army. General John 
Steele, who, according to the American Historical Register of February, 
1896, was a member of Washington's family and field officer of the day 
at Yorktown, was a son of Richard Steele, the emigrant from Newtown- 
Limavady. His brother, Richard, also saw service in the Revolutionary 

According to the Kentucky Historical Association's Registers, "the 
frontier was in need of brave and tried men, and Virginia offered large 
grants of land in the Western counties to go and protect her borders from 
the ravages of the Indians and the British. Richard Steele was one of 
those who answered the call. In 1780 he organized a handful of brave 
souls, who traveled on flatboats down the Ohio River, amid constant 
dangers from the lurking Indians who were then on the warpath. They 
landed on Corn Island, at the Falls of the Ohio, where they were com- 
pelled to stay for nearly two years on account of the attacks of the 
savages. Here they suffered much hardship. One of the party was the 
father of United States Senator John Rowan, and Corn Island afterwards 
became part of the Rowan estate. In time they moved over to the main- 
land and built a, stockade and fort on Beargrass Creek (the site of the 
present City of Louisville ) ." 

An Ieishwoman's Unflinching Coubage. 

In one of these attacks, at Floyd's Station, seven miles from the 
Steele settlement, Richard was shot over the heart by an Indian. When 
the news was brought to the fort, Mrs. Steele, who was also a native of 
Ireland, "on being told of her huaiband's terrible wounds and condition, 
determined to hurry to his side, notwithstanding the persuasion of her 
friends, who pointed out the almost certain death she would court in 
venturing on so perilous a journey. She made them bring a horse, mounted 
it with a nursing babe in her arms, and rode out in the night through the 


wilderness, passed the Indians safely through the gate of the stockade, 
and nursed her husband back to life and health." 

In 1784, Eiehard Steele and his family moved to a plantation which he 
had acquired near Lexington, and in 1788 his name appears among the 
list of delegates to the General Assembly. In the land office at Frankfort 
can be found records of several land grants to Richard Steele in ten differ- 
ent couties of Kentucky, all for distinguished military services. 

In a paper on "Captain Andrew Steele, a Eevolutionary Soldier," by 
Mrs. J. C. Morton, Secretary of the Kentucky Historical Association, and 
published as part of the records of the Society, the author pays a glowing 
tribute to this gallant Irishman. In 1776, he moved from Mercersburg, Pa., 
to Kentucky, with a company of seven men. "He took part in the awful 
border warfare, and was at the defeat of Bryan's Station, and in the famous 
battle of Blue Licks." 

In the CaJlendars of Virginia State Papers (volume 8) are found elo- 
quent and thrilling letters from Andrew Steele to the Governor of Virgiinia, 
describing the perils and dangers to which the Kentuckians were exposed, 
and describing the battles with the Indians and the resultant sorrow and 
suffering. These eloquent petitions are regarded as among ithe finest speci- 
mens of writings of the day. 

In recognition of his services in "the rear-guard of Kentucky" — ^as 
Kentucky border warfare is styled — he was given large grants of land in 
that State. The patents are on record in the land office at Frankfort, the 
largest having been one of 1,000 acres in Fayette County — (Book one, page 

Some years after the Revolution, Andrew Steele returned to Ireland 
and there married his second wife, Ann Garr, but died on the return voyage. 
His children are mentioned among the pioneers of many places in Kentucky. 

An Ieish and Ameeican Pateiot. 

"Andrew Steele," writes Mrs. Morton, 'never lost his love for his native 
land, the Emerald Isle, and thought with the poet : 

" 'Immortal little island. 
No other land or clime 
Has placed more deathless heroes 
In the Pantheon of time.' 

"Yet, oppression and tyranny will drive a proud spirit from earth's 
fairest Paradise to seek liberty, justice and happiness in a less-favored 
spot of earth. Andrew Steele believed in American Independence; he 
fought for it, worked for it in Kentucky, and eventually found his reward 
and became a man of high position and influence." 

He is described as "Captain Andrew Steele" in Perrin's History of 
Kentucky. Perhaps the title was given to him by courtesy, as we have 
been unable to verify it on any record in the Land Office at Frankfort Be- 
sides his extensive holdings in Fayette County, he had many valuable tracts 
of land in Bourbon, Mason, Scott, Woodford and Franklin Counties. His 


two brothers-in-law lost their lives in the battles of Boonestown and Bryan's 
Station. One of the handsomest avenues in the Capital City, Steele street, 
was called for William Steele, a cousin of Andrew. A large number of his 
relatives settled near him in Kentucky, between whom there were the most 
afifeotionate family relations. Their descendants are now scattered far 
apart in almost every State of the Union. Many of them are bankers, 
doctors and lawyers. They were always ready with purse and rifle to aid 
the cause of their country, for which their Irish ancestors fought so well. 
They were distinguished for their courage, their endurance and well-known 
ability, whether in the front or as civil officers, or in the rearguard in the 
terrible border warfare along the Ohio River, and on the south shore line 
of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky. 

Another Kentucky pioneer was Thomas Steele, who, as well a,s his wife, 
Eleanor Moore, were natives of Newtown-Limavady. He was Andrew's 
younger brother, and joined him about 1787, locating in Woodford County. 


Irish Pioneers in Kentucky. 

Large Irish Catholic Settlements in the Eariy Days of 

Bardstown and Other Places— The Need 

for Systematic Research. 

Among the descendants of Irish pioneers of Mason County who 
represented that section in the Kentucky Legislature, between 1792 and 
1815, were John Maher, John McKee, James W. Coburn, James Ward and 
Michael Dougherty. Michael Cassidy, a native of Ireland, was sent to 
the House of Representatives from this county in 1797. 

The first frame house in Maysville was built by Charles Gallagher. 
He also kept the first store in that city. The first brick house was built 
by Simon Kenton. The first white child born in the county was Joseph 
Logan, son of John Logan. He was born at MoKinley's block house on 
September 27, 1785. 

In the early part of 1790 John May, from whom Maysville took its 
name, came down the Ohio, embarked at Kelly's Station on the Kenawha 
River, whence they proceeded to Point Pleasant, where they were joined 
by a man named Flynn, who, with two sisters, named Fleming, had come 
from Pittsburgh. The party came up with a roving band of Indians, with 
whom they had a desperate fight, in which several of the white men were 
killed. Flynn was a terror to the red men, whom he had put to flight on 
several occasions when they attacked the white settlements. They accord- 
ingly vowed vengeance on him, and when captured at Point Pleasant, put 
their terrible threat into execution by burning the unfortunate Irishman 
at the stake. 

Colonel Timothy Downing, an Irishman, was a well known pioneer of 
Mason County. On his return on one occasion from Lexington, where he 
had been on a trading expedition, he was captured by Indians near Blue 
Licks. They crossed the Ohio with him at Logan's Gap, but after a moat 
thrilling experience, he escaped and, returned to Maysville. 

A Captain Richard McCarty is mentioned among the pioneers of 
Mason County. It is thought he was one of the Virginia family of that 
name, who, like so many others, were attracted to the rich country to the 
West. There is nothing on record to indicate that he settled down in 
Kentucky, but his name is mentioned in several old records and narra- 
tives of the military expeditions under General George Rogers Clark as 
taking part in expeditions against the Indians. It is related that in a 


conflict with) a band of Indians near the Eiver Raisin in the Spring 
of 1793, Captain McOarty commanded the Kentucbians. He was taken and 
led into captivity, but was purchased from the Indian chief on the restor- 
ation of peace. He and a Captain Baker were the only two of the captives 
to escape, the remainder having all been tomahawked. 

One John Coburn came to Kentucky from Philadelphia in 1784. He 
was first a merchant in Lexington and in 1788 was admitted to the bar. 
In 1794 he settled in Mason County. He became Judge of the District 
Court and later of the Circuit Court. President Jefferson appointed him 
Judge of the Territory of Michigan, which office he declined, but sub- 
sequently accepted the appointment to the judgeship of the Territory of 
Orleans and held court at St. Louis. He is described as a man of great 
ability and much respected. Collins says he was "one of the most inde- 
fatigable, efficient and accomrilished political writers of his day." There 
is no reference to his nationality, but h's name warrants us in placing 
him in this category of Kentucky's Irish- American pioneers. 

The Fighting Race. 

MoCracken County was named after Captain Virgil MoCracken, a na- 
tive of Woodford County, Ky., whose father was one of the first adven- 
turers in that region and who lost his life on November 4, 1782, in the 
expedition of General Clark against the Piqua towns to avenge the terrible 
battle of Blue Licks. Captain Virgil McCracken raised a company of 
riflemen and at the battle of the River Raisin, on January 22, 1813, "fell 
while bravely fighting at the head of his company." 

Meade County was called after another native of Woodford County, 
(Captain James Meade, of Irish descent. When quite a youth he volun- 
teered his services in the Wabash expedition and fought at the famous 
battle of Tippecanoe, where he was promoted to the rank of captain for 
his bravery. Like McCracken, Meade met his death at the battle of the 
River Raisin wihile leading his company. 

Menifee County was named in honor of Richard Menifee, who prob- 
ably was of 'Irish origin. He was born in Bath County, Ky., in 1810. 
He was a school teacher and afterwards a lawyer. He had a brilliant 
career, which was prematurely checked at the early age of 31. "Over the 
whole State,'' says Collins, "his death cast a gloom. It has been the 
fortune of but few men of the same age to achieve a, reputation so 
splendid. Born in obscurity and forced to struggle in early life against an 
array of depressing influences, sufficient to crush any common spirit, he 
had rapidly but surely attained an eminence which fixed upon him the eyes 
of all America as one of our most promising statesmen. At 27 he was 
elected to Congress. His efforts in the House, bearing the impress of high 
genius and commanding talent, soon placed him in the front rank of de- 
bates at a time when Congress was remarkable for the number of its 
able men." 

His father, Richard Menifee, represented Montgomery County in the 
Kentucky House of Representatives from 1801 to 1806. James McElhenny 
was a Senator from Montgomery at the same time. Montgomery County 


was called after the distinguished general of the Revolution, Richard 
Montgomery, from Donegal. 

In Nicholas County there was a flourishing settlement known as 
"Irish Station," about six miles South of the Lower Blue Licks, on the 
road to Lexington. It was so called after a group of Irish people who 
settled in the vicinity some time after 1775. A man named Lyons es- 
tablished himself near there and carried on a large trade in general mer- 

Ieish Catholic Settlements. 

Benjamin J. W«bb, in his "Catholicity in Kentucky," refers to a 
large number of Irish settlers who located in 1785 at Pottinger's Creek, 
a;bout fifteen miles Southeast of Boston, in Nelson County. He relates 
that in 1785 a "league of sixty families was formed in St. Mary's County, 
Md., who were all Catholics, each of whom was pledged to emigrate to 
Kentucky within a specified time." Twenty families left Maryland in 
1785, the remainder following within a few years. 

Among the leading Irish Catholic families of this vicinity are men- 
tioned those of Ignatius Byrne, Henry McAtee, Ignatius and Randal Hogan, 
William Mahony, Bernard Nally, Henry Norris, James Mollihone, Jeremiah 
Brown, Philip and Henry Miles, Thomas Bowlin, James Queen and 
Francis Bryan. Mrs. Monica Hagan had been there since 1782. She set- 
tled at New Hope with her three sons, Clement, James and Edward. 

In 1790 Thomas McManus, with his wife, Mary, and four children, 
left Lancaster, Pa., to make their home in Bardstown, Ky. McManus and 
his wife were both natives of IrelaniJ. and had settled some years before 
in Lancaster, where their children were born. They embarked on a flatboat 
at Pittsburgh, with a, number of other Catholic emigrants, whose names 
are not mentioned, but who, without doubt, were largely, if not wholly, 
Irish. In our articles on Western Pennsylvania we have shown that a 
large percentage of its earliesit inhabitants had emigrated from Ireland. 

Descending the Ohio River at that time was like running the gaunt- 
let between two files of savages. The redmen usually laid in wait in 
large and formidable parties for the boats floating down the river, and 
many a death struggle took place between them and the boatmen. The 
McManus party was fired on and Thomas McManus and a number of his 
companions were killed. This terrible misfortune checked their journey, 
but after religiously burying their dead, and the savages having decamped, 
the remainder of the party proceeded down the river. Mrs. McManus 
first settled near Winchester, in Clark County, but subsequently removed 
to Bardstown. She met with many misfortunes, but being a truly courage- 
ous woman, she overcame them all, and lived to a very old age. She died 
at Bardstown in 1825. One of her sons, Charles McManus, was the lead- 
ing merchant of the town and one of its most honored citizens. He 
married a noted Kentucky beauty, Priscilla Roby. Mary MoManus mar- 
ried Edward Hayden, one of the principal purveyors in Kentucky for 
General Andrew Jackson's army. 


The town of Bardstown was once called "the Athens of the West" by 
Henry Clay. "One hundred years ago," says a writer in the Sun, "it was 
mentioned in the same class with New York, Boston and Philadelphia. 
To-day it is a village of 1,800 people, a picturesque com^nunity scattered 
over one of Kentucky's cave-punctured bluffs and boasting its chief water- 
way in Pitch Pork Creek. Once known as one of the centers of American 
learning, with its Jesuit College, its seminaries, its massive cathedral, 
its proud gentry and its beautiful women, Bardstown is known to-day only 
as the county seat of Nelson County, and alone distinguished for its prod- 
uct of "Old Nelson Eye." "From learning to liquor," as Governor 
Johnson once described it. 

John Reynolds was one of the earliest emigrants to Bardstown. One 
Prendergast was there in 1777. There wer« several families named Hogan 
there in 1812, all Catholics. 

Colony Headed by an Irish Pbiest. 

Rev. Mr. Whelan, an Irish Franciscan, was sent from Maryland to 
Kentucky by Bishop Carroll. He arrived in Bardstown in 1787 with a 
new colony, and "the Catholics met him with open arms." When Father 
Whelan left Kentucky in 1790 and returned ta Maryland, he was succeeded 
by Rev. William de Rohan, who was bom in France of Irish parentage. 

Bishop Spalding, in describing the journey of Fathers Badin and Bar- 
-rieres, two French priests, who in 1793 had been assigned by Bishop Car- 
roll to the distant Kentucky settlements, relates that they celebrated 
divine service at the house of Dennis McCarthy, an Irish Catholic, in 
Lexington. McCarthy had been a clerk in the commercial house of Colonel 
Stephen Moylan, the Corkman who distinguished himself as the organizer 
and commander of the Fourth Dragoons, popularly called "Moylan's Dra- 
goons," in the Revolimtionary War. 

Benjamin J. Webb, author of "Catholicity in Kentucky," says there 
was a large number of settlers of Irish birth among those who first lo- 
cated at Hardin's Creek, "more, possibly, than were attached to any 
Catholic settlement in the State, with the single exception of the wholly 
Irish settlement on Cox's Creek, in Nelson County." The Hardin's Creek 
settlement was established in 1786, and that at Cox's Creek in 1795. 
Among the Irish families whom he mentions are those of the Hogans, 
Flannigans, MoUahones, Raneys, Hoskins, Maddens, Bryans, Gannons and 
Hughes. Their descendants are still numerous in Marion and adjoining 

In 1800 a family named Kelly came from Ireland and settled in 

Bardstown. Other Irish Catholics who are mentioned among the early 

settlers at Bardstown, and who are supposed to have come with Father 

Whelan in 1787, were named McArdle, McGill, MeAtee, Rogers, Moore and 

Harkins. James McGill and his wife, Lavinia Dougherty, were both natives 

of Ireland. Among the Irish residents of the town about 1810 are mentioned 

Patrick Donohoo, Simon and William McDonough and William and George 

Dougherty. The last two became lay teachers in the celebrated college of 

St. Joseph at Bardstown. 


As we have already pointed out, our Irish-American literary and 
historical societies will find in Kentucky one of the most fruitful and in- 
teresting fields for historical research of any in the United States. If a 
systematic and exhaustive examination were made of the early records of 
the State, sufilcient material of a most reliable character could be found to 
fill several volumes. The researches made by the writer of these articles 
have, for want of time and opportunity, been circumscribed and un- 
methodical; but it goes to show what an organization, formed for the pur- 
pose, can accomplish. If this work were done one-half a century ago, we 
would hear less to-day of the "Anglo-Saxon" and "Scotch-Irish" twaddle 
that is handed out to us from time to time, "when the wine is red."